Things Left Behind! An Introduction.

One year ago today, Sunday 9/25/16, my world changed when my wife, Sue, suffered a ruptured frontal lobe aneurysm. She died twenty weeks ago yesterday. In the past few months I have tried to refrain from making any decisions I don’t have to make, but yesterday I managed to go through one kitchen cabinet. One full box of items, I no longer need, now sits on the steps. At some point I will take the box upstairs and put it in the closet for our kids to have first dibs, but for now I just like seeing the box on the steps. I guess you could say I am taking baby steps.

The vast majority of her clothes are still in our closet. A few items have gone to our daughter-in-law, and I took a few items to my youngest sister, but I am far from being ready to clean out her closet or her drawers. I seem to find comfort in walking into the closet and seeing her clothes there, and I will on occasion open her drawers and gaze momentarily on the contents. Today, as I was getting dressed for church, I called out, “Sue, are you almost ready?” Call me crazy if you want, but I do talk to her once in a while, and I journal to her everyday. I remain crazy in love with her!

Sue left a lot of things behind. Much of her school items went to our daughter-in-law who is also a first grade teacher, but most of her things are still here just like they were before she got sick. In time I will begin to go through the things that can be seen and touched. What will always remain are the things she left behind that can’t be boxed up – the lives she impacted and the hearts she blessed.

I continue to sleep on the sofa in the living room. Attached to the living room is a small sunroom. Sue’s hospital bed was in the sunroom for the three weeks she was home before she died, and I slept on the sofa so I could be near her if she needed me during the night. On the coffee table in front of the sofa is a decorative serving tray containing two candles on stands, a small artificial plant, and a framed picture of Sue. Each night before I lay down I look at her picture and begin to pray, thanking God for the 35 years we had together. The same happens each morning. 

When life does change on a dime, we are often unprepared. Storms rarely announce that they are going to alter our lives - tomorrow. Therefore, I intend for this blog to be the first in a series of very practical blogs about life, death, and the things we leave behind, but for now I will close with a question. On this day one year ago, Sue had no idea her life was going to drastically change. She never had a chance to go back to her classroom, do house work, straighten a drawer, or mend a fence (figuratively). If today were the day your life would change forever, just like my wife’s did, what things would you leave behind? I trust you will take the time to meditate on the full weight of that question, today and in the days to come.

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries
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