In recent times coming out of the closet has become a metaphor for releasing who one truly is to the world. I discovered after my mother died as I was cleaning her closet how perfect this metaphor is. Evident in the closet was her meticulous order, her cleanliness, and her taste and style. Standing inside, I could smell the light scent of her brand of detergent, and her favorite perfume; Red Door. All tops and pants hung by hues of color were placed a certain distance apart. My stomach turned over several times over a couple of hours when I pushed down the urge to burst out in tears. I clenched her trinkets in my hand and hugged a bathrobe and one of her shirts she often wore; I guess hoping to feel her. A clips-reel of memories played continuously as I pictured her; remembering the times and places where she wore each piece of her clothing. I found a stylish, slightly old, softly used pocketbook that was carefully wrapped in tissue; I am left wondering why she felt compelled to take extra care of that one since she had so many others. Some of her size seven shoes were worn; yet none were worn out. Many more pairs were still in shoe-boxes, never worn at all; to me these were reminders of her long incapacitation. I was left numb by the thought of what we like, care for, feel that we need to hold on to, desire and need in life – must simply be divvied up or discarded when we go.
My mom is woven into my entire persona. One thing she taught me was to respect the property of others; maybe that’s why it felt so sickening to touch everything she owned [or owns] and make the final decision about where it should go. Clearing out her closet space, where she was defined in so many ways, made me feel as if I was erasing another part of her from life. Everyone who has a loved one die does not go through this; sometimes someone else does the job. I wish I wasn’t the one who created this new emptiness; this new void without her. This I believe: A closet is a place that is definitive, transformative, and where new perceptions may form and change can occur.
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