Other "survivors" (that is, 'suicide survivors,' or people who have lost loved ones to suicide -- I despise the term!) that I have met have talked about how comforting it is to wear the sweater or smell the pillow or sit in the room of their lost one. Because a fire destroyed my house, I'm in the unique position of having no belongings and no rooms to comfort me. The 'stuff' that we did manage to salvage from our home's remains smell (as I like to say) like BBQ.
I long, all the time, to be able to sit in my brother's or parents' rooms and just...remember them. I would have loved to go through their belongings and touch them, and smell them - without having to later wash my hands of the soot. Because all of that tangible memorabilia is in a state reminiscent only of post-tragedy, the few belongings I have that are connected to my family are absolutely priceless. The dishes my mother bought me, the dress she and I bought together, the dollhouse furniture my dad made for me, the gifts my brother bought me. They've reached such an important status that they mean more to me than I ever thought mere 'stuff' could.
Every roommate I've had since, I've forbidden from using those dishes. As much as I understand that accidents happen, I would never be able to forgive them for shattering one of the few connections I have left to the family I've lost. But one can only take so many preventative steps - I broke a dish, a number of months ago. It was all a blur, and I don't remember exactly how it could have happened, but all of a sudden my mother's gift was in shards on the floor. Her voice was echoing in my ears: "Cheap or plastic plates may be better for residence, but you need a nice set of dishes to start out your life with. And with a set of four you can have people over for nice dinners." --- Now, I can't have more than three.
Nearly a year ago, I stepped on and broke a pair of earrings my mom bought me, when my room was a mess. Her voice again - berating me for leaving things on the floor - and then my own voice, chastising me for destroying a precious and near-holy belonging.
Today: I wore a pair of earrings that my mother made for me. I was showing them off to my roommate and her family, and bragging at how talented my mom was. They were earrings that jingled, and I remember what a kick my mom and I got out of the sound. It was a sound like Christmas.
When we got home today, I noticed that at some point a piece had fallen off one of my earrings - the piece that jingled. In any other circumstance - any other pair of earrings - it is so, so insignificant. But for this pair? I've lost another part of a relationship that has reached its end. It is so terrifying. The memories and pictures fade, the stories are forgotten, the belongings break - and nothing new is created to replenish.
The stuff in my life is tantamount to my survival. So every little, jingling piece that falls off an earring is a piece of my heart that withers and dies. And how on earth do I express that without coming across as revoltingly materialistic?