One of my jobs after my mother-in-law had died was to prepare her clothing to take to St. Vincent de Paul. In all her pockets I found used Kleenexes. Sorting through pocket after pocket, I realized that even though we die, our snot stays.
Our skin cells still on the sheets, stay.
The scum on the shower door stays.
Out there in the septic tank our shit stays.
All our effluvia, the stuff that shoots out from us in our daily whirling like dervishes, stays.
Our recipes stay. Our to-do lists with things still not crossed off, stay. The depression our head made in our pillow, our body made in the bed, our butt made in our favorite chair, stays.
Our appointments on the calendar stay. Our plates with the knife and fork cuts across the top stay. Our basket full of vitamins and medication vials stays.
The quilt, the vase, the painting we loved, stay. Our earrings, bracelets, belts, stay. The handkerchiefs our grandma sent us every year for our birthday stay.
The books still bearing our fingerprints, our tears, our breadcrumbs, stay.
Our e-mail, our address book, our Christmas card list, stay.
The fruit we canned, the bench we built, the tree we planted, stay.
Our guitar, our mandolin, our banjo, stay. The music we wrote, the music we sang stays.
Those whose lives we touched, our friends, our family, our husbands, wives, lovers, children–all with their hearts broken, stay.
We go, but not entirely. We linger there just out of the picture right where the frame obscures us, part ethereal, part dust.