Last week I went a rampage organizing my apartment. It was a job way past due. My cupboards were a mess and my pantry had become a mouse-haven this late winter. I really, really hate mice. Give me a snake any day or a big spider but please no mice. I had to clean that pantry so the mice would find a new apartment to hang out in. I screamed so loud when I found a dried- up mouse in a trap that I am sure all my neighbors heard me. I really hate mice.
As I worked, I thought that if Barry were alive, he would take care of the mouse problem. He took on many unpleasant tasks — beehive removal, drain unclogging and other gross jobs. Once he captured a flying squirrel that was living in our cabin, while I laid in bed under the covers with our baby Kelly. Now here I was wearing big mitts, removing a dried-up old mouse. What was it going to do? Come alive and bite me? I had to laugh a little at myself for being such a big wimp.
I decided to clean out the spice cupboard while I was at it. Most of the spices were past their expiration dates, many purchased by Barry for grilling. Barry just loved to grill. There was garlic salt for ribs dated 2010, meat rubs dated 2006, onion powder and many others dating from 2007 to 2012. I thought about what he must have been thinking at the time he bought these. Did he know he was getting dementia? He stopped paying taxes in 2006 and the summer of 2012 might have been the very last time he ever grilled. These spices were a timeline of a man getting sick and eventually dying. The only spices not out of date were the ones I use to bake dill bread or Swedish cardamom bread. Seeing the old spices made me sad. I thought about all he had lost by the time I moved these spices to my new apartment and a new life. I wondered why I moved them at all when they were so old and, clearly, Barry would never grill again. Maybe I was still hopeful we would get our old life back.
I emptied the old spices into the garbage, recycled the containers and then looked into an almost empty cupboard. Another part of our past life was now gone, piece by piece, spice by spice. I am moving forward alone and I better buck up and take care of the mouse problem. So I set more traps. I can do this, I thought to myself. And maybe someday I might learn to grill like Barry. But for now, I think I will just stick to preventing mice — putting one foot in front of the other.