Closing a chapter and turning a page. It’s always bittersweet. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as my kids have become grown men right before my eyes. Yesterday, I met some friends to turn the page on a poignant time in my life. For two summers, we showed up to put on a little Shakespeare in the Park under the leadership of Gary. He brought us all together. Outside the fray of the community he and his wife assembled for the task, I met so many great people. We worked together, ate and drank together, and raised kids together. And then Gary died, suddenly, and we were left without our leader.
Yesterday, I met his wife and her fiancé along with a few friends to empty the storage container left unchecked since that last summer together. Right away, Gary’s absence was evident. The container was locked with a combination lock and as his wife Andrea said, “the combination died with Gary.” Bolt cutters made quick work of the stumbling block but the look on Andrea’s face stays with me. How many times a day is she hit with these tiny reminders that he is really gone?
We sorted through crates and made piles. There was a sewing machine, an electric fire log, and a large blue cooler. We found wooden swords that prompted reminiscing and Macbeth’s severed head brought laughter. We carried sheet after sheet of painted flats and platforms on wheels and frames for risers to the U-Haul truck. The items Andrea chose to keep were practical and small. Props and fabric were selected to be donated to high school theater departments and local acting troupes and I offered to dispose of whatever was left. The decision was made to move it all to our house to be stacked up behind our construction shop. I now own the remainder of those summers. Maybe I was just offering my friend a solution. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to let that stuff go.