Two years ago yesterday, Donald Lupescu passed away and our lives have a big Grandpa-Don-shaped hole in them. It’s an impossibly large hole, as is the case with grief. When the kids came home after school, we spent some time remembering the many things we love and miss about Grandpa. We cherish those memories, and we hold onto tangible things that remind us: On my counter is a sugar bowl from Don and Eleanor’s kitchen, and I think of Don each time I use it. Mark has some shirts and ties from Don; and as Liam waits to grow into his grandfather’s patterned and tropical shirts, he keeps an eye out for “Grandpa Don”-style shirts that are *his* size in the store.
There’s something special about clothes and grief. Clothes hold more than just the memory of our beloveds who wore them–it’s more like what my friend Katelan calls time travel. When we touch those clothes, we touch the past, we flash back, we get an echo. We hold on.
It was incredibly timely to read author Ekaterina Sedia’s essay, “A Story of Grief and Clothes.” Ekaterina lost her father, her sister, her aunt, and her mother in the span of two years. Because her family still lived in Moscow, she spent those two years crossing the Atlantic again and again to say goodbye. This is her beautiful, sad remembrance:
“I dress in black as mourners do, with dark charcoal and navy. I understand now: it requires no matching and no planning, it is simple clothes that require no thought and look okay. They do not show dirt, which is nice when laundry is too much to face when you barely holding it together for necessities. Mourning clothes are the emblem of simplification for survival, life-saving routines that conserve the resources. I exercise and go for walks and do crossword puzzles and read fashion blogs because they are routines, protection, they are not letting me overheat from too much processing.”
What is remembered lives.