Guilty of Theft

I have spoken several times of the few things Barry left in his room. Some of those things were given to his father, when he came over for the funeral, as mementos. Some things were given to his brother, and I have a few items in my Barry Box. And some things were returned to their rightful owners.

Everything else remains how Barry left it.

Shortly after Barry’s death, we needed a power board. We have several, but they were all in use. Then I saw the one in Barry’s room, not being used. I couldn’t take it. It felt wrong. We managed without it.

Some weeks later, I again needed a power board, but this time I really needed it. I went into Barry’s room and asked his permission to use it. As I left the room, I felt as if I had stolen something from my own son, even though I know in life he would have given it to me without a seconds thought.

Sometime later, Daniel needed a shirt. I told him Barry had the right type and we went into Barry’s room and looked in his wardrobe. But, like me, Daniel didn’t feel comfortable taking Barry’s clothing. Echoing my thoughts from the power board incident, Daniel said, “It belongs to Barry. I feel like it’s stealing.”

Last week, I found myself wanting a pen holder. I knew where I would find one, on Barry’s bedside table. I went and sat on his bed, beside the ashes, with the pen holder in my hand, and I stared at Barry’s photo for the longest time.

“This is theft,” I said out loud. “We can take some items to put aside and treasure, but we can’t take items to use without feeling guilty.”

I wish he had spoken to me then, reassured me, but, of course, he didn’t.

Does Barry think it’s theft? No. I know he wouldn’t think that for a minute. I know he would be happy for us to use his things. He was that type of person.

So why do I look at the Toystory container (it looks like it used to have a lid, but that has broken off) that now holds my pens, pencils and highlighters and have a hot flush rush to my face? Why do I act as if the police will be knocking on my front door at any second to charge me with theft? I’m already serving a life sentence, so I guess it doesn’t really matter, but it has left me wondering how I will handle having to pack up his room when we have to move.

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3 thoughts on “Guilty of Theft

  1. This website is like a treasure. When I have some quiet time I would like to sit and read the whole thing and soak in all that you write.
    I took 20 asthma medication tablest when I was 15 and put myself in critical care for three days. My family does not talk about this and the closest I have come to expressing myself is in a few short pages of words. I would like to be able to express myself as honestly, simply and heart-breakingly real as you do. In my blog, I write about silly every day events. My Dad said to me the other day, “Stop trying to be funny all the time because sometimes people would like to really know what happened.” I admire your honesty in this website, I truly do. Thank you.

  2. I know that dealing with “things” is difficult–we’ve been oh-so-slowly dealing with an entire *houseful* of things over the past year. But keep reminding yourself of what Barry’s reaction would have been if you had asked for any one of those things. You’ve said yourself, he would have handed them over without a second thought. Would he have lent Daniel his shirt? Of course. Would he have given you his pen holder? Without question. In fact, he *did* do this. He got rid of things from his room that he didn’t want anyone to have or see or use, so he must have been willing for you to have what was left.

    One of the biggest jobs we had to do when my aunt died was to go through her clothes. And there were a lot of them! She loved clothes and spent what she wanted on them. She often gave me things when she was tired of them (or just when I admired them!) and was delighted if they fit. So although it was difficult, I gladly took many things from her wardrobe that fit and suited me. It’s bittersweet to wear them, but I know if she were watching, she would be happy to see me wearing them. My favorite measuring cup in the kitchen belonged to my grandmother; I think of her every time I use it. There are many other little things like this that I take pleasure in using daily and treasure.

    It isn’t theft to use things that were Barry’s, it’s a way to keep him present in your life in material, practical, everyday ways. He’d love to see Daniel wearing his shirt, or you using his pen holder or anything else–of course he would! So go ahead and honor his generous nature without guilt.

  3. Melanie, you don’t have to share your feelings with the world, like I have. You can write them in a diary. When you have filled the diary, you can burn it so that no one else can ever read it. This is what I plan to do to deal with my anger. It’s the only way I can say exactly what I need to say and know it will never be read in years to come. And…if being funny helps you cope with life, then be funny. It’s alright to do whatever it takes to get through life. But also know that if you need to voice your feelings, someone close to you will listen…if you allow them to.

    Sherry, we are trying hard to get over the guilt. We know it’s silly, but we can’t quite get passed it yet. I can understand what you’re saying though. Even though I didn’t know your aunt, your description of her tells me that she would be more than pleased to see you wearing her clothes. If she loved them, she would want you (and other family members) wearing them, rather than complete strangers.

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