rearranging guilt…

I talked to my step mom the other day because I needed to fill out some papers for a life insurance policy my dad left me.  I tried to make casual conversation by finding words that were loosely disguised with bits of concern but found that dressing up anger is a really hard thing to do.  She told me that she was going through my dad’s things, his clothes, his papers, his books making piles so she could later decide what to do with them.  “So soon,” is all I could say because the real words clinging to the underside of my tongue would have sounded – insensitive.  I’m not sure what the protocol is for how long to wait after someone has passed to dispose of their earthly posessions but two months seems too soon.   While I’m digging through my desk drawers searching for remnants of my father from old greeting cards or birthday wishes, she can’t seem to wipe him away quickly enough.  She’s already torn out multiple treees my father planted from the back yard, given all his furniture away, taken the pictures of his grandkids off the wall and put up ones of hers, and now she’s taken his clothes from the closets, the sweaters and socks from the top dresser drawer and the only remnants of my father sit in piles scattered across the floor like garbage that lines the edge of a highway leading out of town.  She asked me if I wanted to go through his things to see if there was something I wanted but what I want she has already stolen from me.

She will take down his suits from the closet and move her clothes over to take up the space that once belonged to my dad; she will replace the furniture, the pictures, and maybe even be successful at pushing his memories to the  bottom of the old chest that sits in the back room but the trees he planted in the back yard still have roots hidden beneath the soil that run so deep that even cutting off the part of them that is visible to the human eye will not remove the reality that they remain.  Guilt is a lot like the roots of a tree, it runs deep beneath the surface winding its way through the places we cannot see.  We can cut the tree down, redecorate the house that sits above it but all we’re really doing…is rearranging the guilt.

One day I hope that her guilt rises up above the surface and hangs itself front and center of her living room wall.

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