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CATCH-ALLS AND LISTS

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CATCH-ALLS AND LISTS

Cindy Maddera

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During my first attempt at cleaning out the office (this time last year), I came across a doctor's appointment note. The appointment was for a CT scan and dated Dec 27th, but no year or name attached to it. The cogs in my brain started turning like crazy. I knew where we were on Dec 27th 2011 and I knew that Chris had not had a CT scan that day. But what about Dec 2010? We were still in OKC, still living with his mom, still planning on staying put. There had not been a new job offer then. I thought for sure I would have known if Chris had a CT scan or a doctor's appointment. Isn't that something I should know? But my head filled with doubts and questions only a dead man could answer. I thought "what if he knew? What if he knew before the move?" Suddenly these thoughts became all consuming. The people I confided in assured me that there was no way Chris knew before I did about his illness. I let their assurances calm me, but it's always there in the back of my brain. What if he knew? When we first moved here, we bought a dresser at a thrift store. It's a long dresser in the mid-century ranch style and I use it as a buffet in the dining area. One day I'll paint it and change out the handles. The drawers have become catch-alls for clutter. One drawer contains keys and pens, another one full of hand towels and place mats. Two of the drawers contain random bits of tools and glue bottles and tape. One drawer contains a stack of get-well and sympathy cards because I didn't know what to do with them. Saturday I decided to clean out some of those drawers so that I could store more useful crap there. I put tools and light bulbs and glue all in one big drawer. Cleaned out two drawers completely and ended up putting crafting supplies in them. I finally got to the drawer of cards and pulled everything out. Underneath the stack was one of Chris's notebooks. It was open to the place where he'd been working on it. It was, of course, a list. This one was titled "100 Things to Keep to Myself Until I've Done Them/2012". I don't know when he wrote it. He only made it to number 85 and I don't know if it's because he was working on the list when he got sick or he just never came up with 100 things. He was going to get me a new Nikon for Christmas. He was going to replace his scooter. He was going to do things. It was not a list made by a man who knew he had months to live. It was not a list Chris would have written had he known before our move here.

I have found that I haven't had a hard time getting rid of most of his things like his clothes. Though I did hang onto his smartwool socks and his green sweater. I like to wear that sweater with my skinny jeans and boots. The things I can't seem to part with or look at are the stacks of journals. Some of them may only have one or two pages written in them. All of them contain lists of things or bits of notes on this that and the other. All of them contain his words, his voice, him. Sometimes I just want to lay on the floor with them scattered around me, not reading, just touching. Reading his lists reduces me to nothing, an invisible speck. Seeing his handwriting, that blocky scrawl, sends me down into a dark hole. I don't want them but I can't give them up. So they'll sit on the top shelf of the office closet. But at least I know without a doubt now that he wasn't keeping this huge secret. I know that he was just as surprised as I was by that diagnosis. I don't know if this makes things better or worse. I am less angry unless I think about the boxes of garbage he left me to deal with in the basement. I suppose that is enough.