The late, great John Denver sang a song in the 70's entitled, "Goodbye, Again." The song popped into my head as I weepingly said goodbye, again. Two nights ago Donald and I decided it was time to go through all his military uniforms. I am not an overly sentimental saver by nature and it would be impossible to save everything during our 17 moves. However, my intention was to store the uniforms carefully in a trunk reserved only for baby blankets, bitty Denver Bronco's baseball caps and tiny, size 1T Wranglers's but he wanted to throw them away. First of all, just pulling the uniforms out of their box made me sad but the thought of chucking them into the Goodwill box became overwhelming. I actually had to go sit in the bedroom with the dress Blues (oh, a man in his Blues . . .!) and have a good cry. Shocking as much to me as to you, trust me! Just to quantify, a good cry for me lasts about 25 seconds. Seriously. I can have a sob in less time than most folks take in the bathroom.
Donald, on the other hand, threw on one of his many camouflage jackets and laughingly said, "Okay, now I can really be one of those Vets without a job. I just need long hair." Right, good luck with that hair! This was shortly before my crying jag so I didn't see the humor at all. We approached the task with two very different perspectives: Donald sees the uniforms as representing a job he can no longer do, representing an organization he is glad to done with. Even before retirement he got angry about having to put his uniform on every day because he felt like it was a lie. I look at those uniforms as representing a huge loss, something I loved and can no longer have.
The experts say there are multiple stages to grief and you can go back and forth between any of them at any time for an indeterminate length of time. I wonder if, in a tiny way, going through the uniforms is a little like sorting through clothes after a loved one has died. There are memories and smells attached to those clothes. The uniform clear out showed me I am still grieving my Navy loss and that it can hit hard just when I think I'm alright. Well, the last bit is always debatable but you know what I mean! I don't think I'm quite over tossing the uniforms because the boxes haven't made it to Goodwill yet. We saved the insignias because they are special and small. We saved the cammies and shipboards for the boys. And yes, I saved those Blues!