Obsession has been an ongoing learning process. In the days, months and now years following different losses, I have seen and learned about different types of obsession.
Finding, keeping, and holding dear any and everything that has ever been touched by them. I continue to find the tops of soda cans that Roo would take off of every can. I find them when vacuuming and doing laundry. They are shiny little tokens of his life that show up so unexpectedly. I keep them in two places – one in the closet and another by my bed. No one knows they are there, but me. Just knowing that both he and I have touched them and they will forever be near me brings me some level of togetherness.
The thought of parting with anything that he touched or wore is tinged with an obsession of having, holding, and keeping. His scent lingers there, fingerprints are stored there – therefore, a part of him is there. His DNA is left there, skin cells reside there so he is also there.
There is a pain associated in altering or cleaning these things… it sometimes feels like an erasure of him that I cannot bear to do. There is still dirty laundry in the hamper in his room. Sweaty, dirty, and thoroughly lived in clothes sitting in his room that I cannot bear to move. Graduation cards and gifts sitting where he left them; walls adorned with things he cared about. All these are proof of him. I gather and hold these things fiercely. It is as if I have spent the last year hoarding every piece of him that ever existed…
Is it obsession? Maybe… maybe obsession is a part of grief. Spending 18 years teaching Roo to stand on his own two feet have reverted back to holding every bit tight to never relinquish my hold on him. Reading his school work, devouring every letter and word regardless of subject because he held these words in his mind before putting pencil to paper. The words and subjects typical for a senior in high school are priceless to me. I hoard them – hold them secretly, not wanting to share, because they are only my pieces of him. It is this selfish obsession to have every part of him I can get my hands on.
Artwork he made when two, three, and four are shared with a certain few. They are parts of him that few knew – a bounty of treasure. At times like these I am glad I saved so much of him – dragging these things from storage unit to storage unit and house to house. Keeping the small pieces of paper where he left his physical mark on the world. Vocabulary lists from kindergarten when he was learning to write are covered in memories of the six year old so happy to don his backpack and John Deere hat and ride the school bus for the first time. He was so excited to be a “big guy” and go to school. His sister and I waited for him to get home and tell us all about his teacher and friends. The smile he had getting off the bus beaming from his little face – pictures and papers he proudly withdrew from his backpack of all he learned. Pictures and papers that would hang on the refrigerator for weeks slowly removed and replaced by others. These are the pictures and papers that would be tucked away because I couldn’t bear to throw away something that made him so proud.
Gems baby bag is tucked away filled with the few things I have of her. A small jacket, a nearly empty can of baby formula, socks, a pair of pants, onesie, and a binky fill a small black bag.
A lunchbox is filled with Jim. Gloves, hankies, small hand tools, pieces of soap stone, and a pencil – small things of him that I hold dear. I keep thinking I should put them in a shadowbox, but then they aren’t able to be held and touched.
Obsession related to grief is inherent for me. Obsessing over every pencil stroke, everything he touched, is loving him – is missing him – is searching for the priceless parts of him that are left. Pieces of him that are obsessively searched for. Pieces my hands search for so I can see the parts of him that are tucked away in my memories. Parts of him are manifested in pop can tops and mismatched socks – his “lost” t-shirts that somehow made into my clean laundry. I delight in these small findings that lead to hours of obsession to find one more. Spending hours going through paper work that has been stored in the garage for months looking for some small piece of him that has been sitting in a box forgotten.
This obsessive behavior is stronger for Roo – maybe because the grief is still so fresh – maybe because I don’t have any physical pieces of him. I have Gem’s urn, I have part of Jim… no part of Roo. The reason behind this is a story for another day… Maybe I search for pieces of him more fiercely because of this. I look and clamor for ways to extract DNA from hair. I have some of Roo’s hair. This is shorn hair with no follicles and I search for ways and means that his DNA can be extracted and transferred to an image or sequence for me to have. There must be some cost effective way for this to be done. It feels like that is the ultimate piece of him. I know that mothers carry their children’s cells in them and I wonder if there is some way to extract that part of him from me. I guess it is the obsession of his immortality.
These are a few of my obsessions… These are moments of my fierce love that show themselves in obsession. Is obsession just a part of love?