Yesterday I gathered up a pile of clothes to do a few loads of laundry. I mindlessly grabbed socks, underwear, shorts, and shirts that I had aimlessly left disgaurded on the bathroom and bedroom floor. Each piece was quickly plucked into the hamper as I made my way around the room, like making my way through a maze. To my satisfaction the maze of work clothes, jeans, and PJ's slowly evaporated. I rounded the corner of our bed continuing my cleaning fury, unaware of what I was about to face.
A crumpled white t-shirt found its way to my hands. In my mind I knew it was just an undershirt, but in my hands it felt sad and heavy. I froze, holding it steadily. Slowly I lifted it to my nose and breathed in deeply. It still smelled like him. It made me feel overwhelmingly comforted but somber all at the same time. I was fixed in the middle of my room holding a plain white t-shirt, just staring at it deciding what to do.
"Do I wash it?"
"No, I can't do that, it won't smell like him anymore."
"Its eventually not going to smell like him, so why wait for it to gradually fade away?"
"Because, if I wash this I might not remember what he smells like."
"What if its the last thing I ever smell of his?"
"Meredith you can't think like that."
"I know, I know."
"I should probably wash it and get it over with."
I stood holding the shirt over the washer feeling uncertain. The water plunged into the soap accumulating a bed of bubbles that was quickly rising, hungry to wash away any essence of Evan that was left. A prick of annoyance pressed past the pensive mood.
"What am I doing standing here gawking at a stupid shirt?"
"Its not stupid."
"Yes it is, why am I letting the stupid Army make me feel this way?"
"You just want remember him."
"It's ridiculous, I'm not playing this game. I'm just going to wash it."
I tossed the shirt in and slammed the lid shut.
I get upset at myself when I let these kind of things get to me. Only in this world does laundry become an exorbitant, emotional endeavor. Something as simple as a white undershirt can stop me dead in my tracks, petrified like a hunted wild animal...its flustering sometimes. It takes me right back to the moment when we first moved in together. Proud that I, his wife, got to wash them, fold them, and put them away in the perfect part of his dresser with care. The moment where we were getting ready for a date together. I loved watching him shave and get ready; he looked so handsome in his plain white t-shirt. How many times have I hugged that t-shirt and its hugged back, warm and intoxicating. Now its a cold and formless. I miss the person inside that shirt. Tender moments like this painfully come to life when hes away. It makes me feel happy, sad, angry, and rattled all at the same time. I don't always know how to deal with it, but I know I can't keep him here by not washing his things. Instead of holding on to a shirt that he once wore, I need to wash it, make it smell good and clean, fold it crisply, and tuck it away in his dresser. When the day arrives that he comes home, which will be soon, I'll watch him open his dresser, reach in and put on his familiar white t-shirt.
A few weeks after he gets back I'll probably be grumbling at him for not putting his shirt in the laundry!