It was my father’s body that was taken out of the house first. Then the medical supplies: the pain medicines, the gloves, the wipes to keep him clean, the bed he stayed in for those last couple weeks. The bed pan he never used, the blankets to keep him warm, the pillow to keep his head comfortable when he slept and rested for hours on end. The walker he hated when he could walk. The wheelchair we pushed him around in when his legs could no longer hold him. The hospice bed that was his own when he could no longer make it up the stairs. Then things started to get divided. His furniture went to my aunt, my sister, me. I got his mahogany bookcase that weighs so much it takes four people to carry. My sister got his heart table with the magnificent marble tabletop. My aunt took a Mexican sculpture mask from his collection and nothing else but the grief that now weighs upon her shoulders. His books went to the local bookstore and his clothes got donated except for that fantastic suit and purple shirt we buried him in. His beloved Native American paintings now hang on my walls and my sister’s. The toy cars his own father collected (we each got one) are in a place of pride on that bookcase. The pots and pans he loved to cook in (successful or not) were given away. I took the pot we popped our popcorn in every night. My sister took his coin collection and beautiful glass-faced cupboard.
Then the cleaning supplies came in. The long lost suitcase, the cologne, the Pandora bracelet found again. The marks from the wheelchair scrubbed away, the smoke from the Winston cigarettes scrubbed off the ceiling, those shoe marks from under the bar after all the family gatherings, shots after the funeral, poker games and king crab leg dinners. The miscellaneous was found and thrown out, found and restored to its owner. The miscellaneous furniture moved to storage until we have bigger apartments and houses.
The empty house echoed as we did one last walk-through. The laughter and the tears, the anger, the helplessness, and the guilt we would always carry with us, but those ghosts would still be here. Walking out that front door we left what we could to ease our burdens and took all of him that we could hold in our hearts, forever.