A story of grief by a man and a boy

things break

This is a guest post by Willis Goodmoore

Willis Goodmoore, 51, is a widowed father from the United States. His husband Sheldon passed away two years ago in November 2011. They have two children, Tyler (10) and Noah (8). In his guest post, Willis talks about memories continue long after ‘things’ are gone. 

I spent some time this weekend clearing the kids’ playroom of toys they’ve outgrown. It made me think of how I feel about “things.”

I’ve never dreamt of a fancy car. I don’t crave a big home or wear expensive clothes. Things are generally not important to me. It’s the experience attached to things that is important to me.

You may have seen the beautiful SoulPancake video about Zach Sobiech – the promising young musician who recently died. In the video, he gets the opportunity to drive the sports car of his dreams. I liked what his dad had to say about the experience, “it wasn’t the car, it was the experience the car created and the joy that Zach received from driving it.”

As I pillaged the kids’ playroom I came across all sorts of toys with sentimental connections. Among them were “Leon,” the yellow plush lion that Noah clutched and cried for until he was three, and “Starry,” a colorful rattling star that was Tyler’s first favorite. Family and friends helped us collect spares – just in case the originals went missing.

Needless to say, Starry and Leon were spared the donation bin!

I thought about how my own attachment to things is not that different from the kids.

Yesterday, a stranger at the neighborhood pool admired our beach blanket – asking where we got it. And, after an afternoon of much-needed solitude in the crowd, (thanks to my book and music), I found great comfort in telling him the story of how the blanket was a sample my husband’s company made that was never produced. I nearly teared up as I shared with this total stranger that Sheldon brought it home to us, and it travels with us to the park, the beach, the pool…. It’s not the blanket. It’s the experiences the blanket represents.

The challenge is: things get lost. Things wear out. Things break. I struggle with this every day as the treasured wallet Sheldon gave me falls apart – the seams dissolving. Yet, I carry it every day – bank cards and IDs clattering to the floor after every transaction.

Similarly, the letter “e” has disappeared from the beautiful bulletin board he created for the entrance of the kids’ school. Now, guests are “w lcomed” to school.

T-shirts from favorite vacations fray. Favorite coffee mugs chip. It’s the nature of things.

I realize that my attachment to these things is no different than the kids’ early attachment to Leon and Starry. It’s about comfort. The wallet, the blanket, the bulletin board, and all the t-shirts and coffee mugs provide comfort. They are comforting reminders that he was here, of our life together, of our experiences together as a family.

The children have outgrown their need for Leon’s and Starry’s constant companionship. And, perhaps, someday I will replace this tattered old wallet. Perhaps, I will really know somewhere deep inside that the experiences and the memories live on long after the “things” are gone.

bulletin board

Sheldon’s bulletin board

4 comments on “things break

  1. Emilie Adams
    November 7, 2013

    I love this post. Treasure the memories. Don’t get upset about the disintegration of material things. Love. Emilie x

  2. Pingback: Friday Treasures | Trawlergirl – Celebration Inspiration – Home of How I Partied

  3. dotdads
    November 19, 2013

    Reblogged this on I am a Widower and commented:
    I admire Ben Brooks-Dutton for his bravery, for his terrific writing, and for speaking on behalf of the widowers raising children alone. Earlier this November, he published one of my early pieces as a “guest post” on his beautiful site – I am grateful.

  4. Pingback: Friday Treasures | Trawlergirl

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