I folded Scott’s last pair of socks, pants, and shirt the day after he died. It hit me hard that I would never again wash, fold and put away his clothes. Over the 18 years of marriage we shared, I’ve folded a lot of laundry . Often times, it was something I even complained about. You know that never ending laundry pile that seems to multiply itself?
Knowing it would be the last time I would ever put his socks in the top drawer, his shirt in the third and his pants in the fourth, where it always went suddenly made the ordinary turn sacred.
It was so normal…..but then again, it wasn’t
As the days and weeks go by that Scott is not here, I’m realizing how sacred the ordinary is. The things most of us wouldn’t think too much of in our day, well because, they are just that: ordinary.
The way I always put the coffee on “strong” just for him, how he always had his favorite coffee cup with the orange straw, the way he always called me “hon” (unless he was mad at me ) , how his toothbrush sat out on the sink and where his hair brush went in the caddy below, how he liked his socks put on, his favorite shirt and a certain pillow he liked in in his chair just right.
Most of this stuff, I just did, without thinking about it. They didn’t seem especially special. They were just another part of a day in the life. Much in the same way you probably cut the crust off your kids peanut butter sandwich, the way you fold the shirts to fit in the drawer and the towels so the ends don’t stick out. It may even be the things that annoy you, like the child who never refills the toilet paper roll, the laundry that is in the basket inside out again (didn’t you just talk to them about that yesterday?) or the way your husband walks in the house with his shoes on instead of taking them off at the door (didn’t you just mention that yesterday too?!).
All of it is just day to day stuff. We sleep, we wake, we shower, we work, we drive, we do errands and pay bills and cook dinner and all that ordinary stuff is mixed in, and most of the time we don’t even notice it happens because we get so used to it.
Sure there are the highs and lows of life that we remember well. Births, weddings, holidays, vacations, diagnosis days, and the days you can’t forget because they brought good or bad news. Those are seared in our memories, usually because they were moments that changed our lives immediately. Those days are important too. But what about the ordinary?
Isn’t it the day to day stuff actually makes us who we are in the grand scheme of things? These little things, this the middle of the road, the day in and day out, are what really makes a person, a marriage, a parent, a family, and a house a home?
Anyone who has ever lost someone would do anything to have the ordinary back. The clothes to fold, the food to make, the pillow to put in the right spot, the coffee cup to fill and even the toothpaste to clean off the bathroom mirror and the dirty socks to pick up.
Maybe today we can all learn to cherish a little more what seems so simple, instead of just completing our routine, we can be reminded to enjoy beauty of the sacred ordinary.
Because I’ve learned that living out the ordinary can end up being the most extraordinary things to remember after all.