Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Artifacts

What do you keep when you lose someone? We're still figuring that out.

When we moved a month after Kirk went missing it was so chaotic, so horrible, that I was hardly thinking straight. Anything belonging to the kids that they really wanted to keep we kept; absolutely everything of Kirk's was carefully packed up. My own things didn't matter. Furniture was given or thrown away. Twelve boxes of books were simply donated to the library en masse. They were, after all, only things.

Gradually, and it took ages, I was willing and able to begin to sort through Kirk's possessions. Many of his clothes were given to family members, and it's been wonderful to see my father wearing Kirk's sweater or our son using his coat every day. There are many other things though that we still have, things that are tangible pieces of story. A few of them are in our tiny house - the Venetian masks he brought back from Italy, the division coin he was given in Germany - but most of them are packed away in boxes.

Every now and then though I come across one unexpectedly and still the memories are so immediate, so strong. The other day I saw this in the garage lying next to the tool box:

And immediately I was back when we were dating. Kirk was a dedicated hiker and camper and this knife went with him on every trip. I think he bought it after he came home from Thailand because if you look closely at the blade:

You can see where he inscribed it with several lines of Thai script. It's an icon really of who Kirk was at that moment twenty years ago. Some day it will be handed on - to the Male Child perhaps, or even some day to a grandchild.

For now it will go back into the storage box but the memories, refreshed and strengthened, will stay.

6 comments:

Allison said...

I still have one similar to it (smaller, though)that Kirk gave me in college after a frightening experience. It's in a box in our garage, and I found it this last July. It, too, brought back strong, unexpected memories. I'll never, ever get rid of it. Aside from some pictures and letters of/from him that I found at the same time, it's my only tangible link to Kirk. I can't imagine how much you must miss him.

For Kirk said...

Allison - did you know that Kirk carried a picture of you in his wallet? You were wearing a sweater, seated - lovely photo. I remember when we were dating and he was telling me about you he pulled it out to show me the girl with "eyes as beautiful as a husky dog." He added one of me and pictures of the kids, but he kept that one as well, a picture of one of his closest friends.

Allison said...

I had no idea whatsoever. I am completely overwhelmed... and humbled. (and thanks, by the way, for starting the water works).

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wheelsonthebus said...

I want to comment so you know I am here, sending you my thoughts. But I cannot say anything that will help. I so wish I could.

Emily R

female child said...

HEY! why does the male child get said cool kiniffy?