I wrote the following post four Aprils ago. I remember those mandarin oranges. I remember the rawness of grief.
Here is what I miss: the rawness meant that Dad had recently been a part of our lives. We are no longer in such a raw place, which comes with its own blessings. But last week I was driving a niece to something and we discussed that it has already been four years since Grandpa died. Four.
In this post I asked the question “When?” The funny answer was . . . that very day! As I was working on this post, my mom threw out the mandarin oranges. Four years later, we are not in the raw grief phase. I share this short post to remind all of us that life is moving along. If you are in a hard phase, it won’t always be hard. If you are in a good phase, pause, savor, and enjoy.
I can’t remember if I bought the mandarin oranges before or after my dad died. Of this I am sure, we needed fruit. Most of the mandarin oranges have been eaten, but a few remain in their mesh bag near the back of the refrigerator.
This is where you might find me disgusting. I find myself a bit disgusting. So, whatever.
They are beginning to shrivel. Not bad, not to the point they could be used as the head of a doll, shrunken down and dried out.
I have thought often in the last week about why I can’t yet bring myself to throw them out. My mind wanders to the lovely poem by William Carlos Williams and the plums in the refrigerator. We passed the lovely stage a while ago.
Do you have to read this short story in high school? The one where the lady dies—was she in her wedding dress?—and years later her body is found, dried and shriveled up in her bed. I think of that story when I open the refrigerator and watch the mandarin oranges slowly shrinking with the passing of time. Her family members become less creepy by the day. More relatable.
Maybe I’m becoming more creepy. Less relatable.
When I bought the damn things they were mere fruit. When did they become the marker that time is passing? Without my choosing, they have moved to “as long as they remain in there, we’re not that far from when Dad died” land.
It’s funny what we choose to hold or mark our stories. I know time is moving on. The day we moved Dad into hospice there were icicles the size of swords hanging down, and now spring flowers have come and nearly gone. The flowers don’t tug at my heart.
But those mandarin oranges, they get to me. And I close the door and wonder when I’ll be able to throw them out.