It’s all material things… in the long run you can’t take it with you.
But when a person dies, their stuff legally goes to whoever he/she deemed in a written will… if there is no will, it goes to their next of kin.
In my case, my fiance’s stuff goes back to his parents. I legally have no right to anything that we shared.
Earlier this week, they asked for his sleeping bag and his tent.
It’s just a sleeping bag. It’s just a tent. When he passed, I took everything of sentimental value and/or anything we shared or that he gave/made for me. We were avid backpackers. I didn’t take everything… just the basics. The sleeping bag because he often let me use it since I slept ‘cold’ and it was a 0 degree bag. The sleeping bag because you never wash sleeping bags and although I complained of it being ‘foul’ when he was alive, it is now the last vestige of his scent anywhere. The tent because when he bought it, that very same sunny afternoon we set it up in our living room. We crawled into it, and giggled as the cat was confounded why we wouldn’t let her into the mesh shell. The smell of the formaldehyde brand new-ness and plastic. And as we lied in it, he said, “This is our new home.” He used the word ‘our’. And we talked about the places we could use it: New Zealand. The Trinity Alps. Motorcycle trips yet unknown. The Pacific Crest Trail.
But I know his parents are suffering too. His dad taught him how to backpack as a teen. His dad and he went backpacking as adults and those were my fiance’s favorite dad memories. So I know I can’t hold onto these ‘things’. After all, they need these ‘things’ to heal too. They are not being ‘bad’ people… they are just needing remembrances just as much as I am.
But it feels weird. Because no one was there when he and I talked about what was ‘ours’ and what was ‘mine’. When you live with someone you love, with the exception of clothes, do you really have a ‘mine’? Okay, maybe the occasional slice of cake in the refrigerator, or maybe the last can of coconut water. “That’s mine!”
But the soap is ‘ours’. The toilet paper is ‘ours’. Even the tootbrushes, although they be labeled ‘yours’ and ‘mine’… we shared those when we couldn’t find ‘mine’. “Can I use YOUR tootbrush?” -”Yeah. Go ahead.”
It didn’t matter who bought what, because it eventually found itself into the ‘our’ pile.
And even though legally these things may not be ‘mine’… I was there when we blended our lives. “This is for us!” we would crow as we brought some ‘thing’ new home. A puffy chair. A painting. A pair of high-grade well-marbled steaks. Brand new tomato seedlings for planting. I remember how we laughed and how far out the future seemed. I remember when we made those silent assumptions: these are ‘our’ blankets’, this is ‘our’ camping equipment, this is ‘our’ hummingbird feeder, this is ‘our’ home, this is ‘our’ life together… And yet, can any of those memories -in the end- stand up in a court of law?
But guess what? I get to keep the memories and no one can take those away.