Oh God, I do not want to be doing this.
That’s what I was thinking as my ex husband took a bolt cutter to the lock on my father’s closet. I wanted to be anywhere but in the basement at that moment. I knew what was in the room, I wasn’t going to be surprised. I knew my dad’s closet contained his hidden stash of porn. I just didn’t want to be the one to have to get rid of it. But I didn’t want my brother to have to do the job either, so that left me.
So there we were, my ex husband, who I was still madly in love with and with whom I had a restraining order against, my father’s ex boyfriend, and me. As my ex husband opened the door I started to laugh. At first it was just a nervous laugh, and then it turned into full blown hysterical laughter as I realized the few garbage bags I was holding were not going to be enough, we were going to need a dumpster to get rid of all this.
I just stood there in the doorway laughing, and then I started crying. My ex husband tried to make light of the situation while my father’s boyfriend eagerly pawed through all of the books, magazines, tapes, and DVDs that filled the room to the brim. There was so much porn, and not just regular porn but full gay on gay porn, that there was hardly any room for the three of us to stand in the room.
There was so much of it. The shelves lining the room were filled to capacity, and the floor was filled with at least eight more boxes of it. Boxes with my handwriting scrawled across the top with words like kitchen and living room. Boxes my ex husband and I had used to move across the country. That my father had used my boxes somehow made it worse. I had spent most of my life hiding his secret, his decision to use boxes that held my life in them at one time seemed so … thoughtless.
But then I don’t know if he ever realized how much I had hidden in that closet with him.
I did not want to be there. I didn’t want to think about any of the mess that he had left behind. I didn’t want to think about it because now there were no answers. It was all speculation at this point. Mom made things up. What she remembered and what really happened were far too cloudy to ever sort out.
I had not wanted my father to die. Okay, if we are going to be truthful, and we might as well be, there were a few times I wished him death, but that was anger talking. Now that he was dead I wanted him to back so I could kill him for leaving this god awful mess behind. And not just the porn, though that was a pretty sucky part of his passing, the financial mess and God, what was I going to do with my mother?
How had this happened? How was it that I was in the basement with my ex husband and my father’s boyfriend, someone I couldn’t stand, cleaning up this mess? Because I had nothing better to do and all I had ever known how to do was take care of my father. Shit my life was mess.
It took my father one day, just 24 hours, to die. It took us a week to bury him. That week seemed like a lifetime.