My husband and I decided to paint the den, then the bedroom, then the kitchen. We’ve put a new floor in our bedroom, new lights in the kitchen and now we’re working on the living room. Along the way we have culled dozens of books from our bookshelves and made donation trips to Goodwill and the Symphony Book Fair. He’s contemplating re-painting the bathroom.

What’s going on here? I know most of this was overdue but the thought struck me recently that we are working on every room except Malcolm’s. The one that most people probably think we should be working on. But that’s OK. A lady at a suicide survivors meeting shared that her husband had been gone for ten years before she moved his shoes from the end of her bed. There is no time-line for grieving. For now, we jealously guard the Malcolm smell in his bedroom, not keeping the door open for long for fear it will dissipate. I know we can’t keep it forever, but forever is a long time away and for now it is a comfort.

So my husband forges ahead, painting anything that doesn’t move, and I go behind removing the now yellow or warm nutmeg geckoes and errant pieces of wallpaper. OK, I’m joking about the geckoes. But it could have happened, he wouldn’t have noticed.

I’m also filling in cracks with spackle; it bothers me to see cracks. We are making things new; healing cracks in the walls. It might all be a metaphor or it might just be redecorating. Either way the house is looking better, so it’s a win-win situation.

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