The towels were the first thing I had to let go. I realize how peculiar this might sound….that out of all of the things one acquires in life—house, cars, furniture, clothing, dishes, tools, home decor, miscellaneous junk—the bathroom towels were the first among all of the other collected items I would give up.
And yet, that’s exactly how it worked out….how it all started. Running to the bathroom the afternoon of April 1, 2010 while blood spouted from my husband’s mouth on the family room couch where he lay with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, my only hesitation was when I finally arrived at the stack of new and neatly folded bath towels, promising soft comfort after a hot relaxing bath or shower. Except today, the towels would come to the end of their short lives in this world. Once their soft pile was used to soak up the red pool of human essence erupting from the father of my children in the other room, their loss was assured.
For a second, I paused…and as thoughts raced through my head at the speed of light, time itself seemed to slow almost to the point where its relevance to anything beyond the confines of the limited human brain ceased to exist. I stared at the towels….and then grabbed them, returning to the moment in which I had originally found myself just after 3 p.m. on a normal and beautiful spring day.
When the police and paramedics finally arrived not long after, I was ushered from the room and left, along with my pleas and futile attempts, the towels for good. It was the last time I saw them before they were (I imagine) buried in a landfill, lost and forgotten, their unexpected purpose fulfilled. Their journey, as it turned out that day, had come to an end.
My journey, however, was only just beginning.