I would rank the downsizing of my house, which began about 18 months after my husband’s death, as one of the hardest emotional experiences of my life.  I needed to confront his closet and bedroom dresser, with all his clothing: the tuxedo he wore to my senior prom in college, the two sports jackets I always loved, the crew neck sweaters with the holes in the sleeves, the suits, the ties….

My son and son-in-law claimed some things, which made me feel better.  What didn’t get recycled for the next generation went into big, black trash bags for a donation.   It was a heartbreaking process and one which didn’t end until the not-for-profit who got the donation picked up the 7 bags of clothes that sat for a week by the door.  I could barely look at them.

And then there was his briefcase, which sat in the study during most of the time books were being taken off shelves and put into boxes.  It sat pretty much in the same spot where my husband had put it 18 months before, on the last day he worked before he needed heart surgery.  It was just where the briefcase always stayed and nobody felt the need or will to move it.

It was an old-fashioned brown leather briefcase with a flap, that closed with a brass clasp.  It was battered from decades of holding legal documents, newspapers and miscellaneous papers but that only enhanced its character.  My husband always held onto things and certainly wasn’t interested in the latest fashion statement.  Somehow, it was an extension of him in many ways.

Luckily, my son came to the rescue and issued a pardon.  He would take the briefcase for safekeeping.  Maybe, someday, a grandchild will use it.