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Florence in Words

Five Months Later

Mariam's Apartent
As I sit here in my familiar space before the computer, on the second of September, I feel as heart-heavy as I did five months ago when Mariam died. The loss seems to grow, not wane. I still want to talk with her about items in the newspaper I read each morning, knowing, for example, she’d be interested in Muriel Siebert’s obituary or in Obama’s search for a new head of the Federal Reserve, and how she’d not want to see Lawrence Summers chosen. And how would she feel, I wonder, about her apartment cleared out, her belongings, some of them more than 50 years old, scattered to thrift shops, or to her friends and relatives?

She left me, her executor, to dispose of her belongings, and I have done so. The apartment is empty except for furniture, paintings, books. Closets and drawers cleared. The apartment itself for sale. One more visit tomorrow for hard cleaning. And then I will need to think only about the mail, which has dwindled to one monthly bill. All else comes to me directly.

Yes, it’s been hard work and perhaps it has kept me from this kind of thinking and feeling. What comes next? It’s hard to predict, for I could not throw away or shred the photographs and mail she had saved in boxes inside old suitcases placed on top of the linen closet. I could not throw away a small bundle of postcards from her husband she had placed in her lockbox. And I could not throw away a small steel box of recipes written on notecards. Perhaps the last is the easiest for me to deal with, since I no longer cook and I’m not interested in recipes. Mariam’s niece, Molly Chamberlain Trask, wants them, and I shall pack them up for her.

And perhaps that’s the way it will go. Once the apartment has been sold, I will clear out the remaining things. The paintings will go to her friends and relatives. I will take several for my apartment. I may take some pieces of furniture. The rest will also go to thrift shops and the connection with the space Mariam inhabited for more than half a century will have ended.

But what of the letters and photographs?
Mariam's Apartment

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