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The semi-annual cleaning of the closets is a task that I have done many times before. I go through my youngest son, Peter’s closet and take out all of the clothes that he has outgrown over the past season. We then make our way into Andy’s room and go through Andy’s clothes and decide which clothes Andy has outgrown that could now go into Peter’s closet. Andy’s clothes really always went straight into his younger brother’s closet as there was really never too much of a size difference between the two of them. 

There were sometimes even some arguments that would occur during this task when Andy would have a favorite shirt that he claimed still fit because he didn’t want to give it up. I usually could get him to let go of it though because he knew that he could buy something else to replace it. Peter was never jealous that Andy would get all new clothes either. He loved Andy and loved being able to wear his old clothes. I would also make sure to get Peter a few new things as well, usually cool shirts that matched Andy’s exactly.

It was also easier to get Peter to give up a favorite shirt when he knew that there was another one just like it the next size up in his brother’s closet waiting for him. In fact, years ago I got matching Detroit Tigers shirts and shorts for them. The next year, I was able to get the next size up and again the year after that.  I think Peter got to wear that outfit starting at 2T all the way up to 5-6. He loved it.

Since Andy died last year, I have avoided going through his closet as much as possible. Occasionally, I would get something out to give to Peter when he really needed it. This summer, I realized that all of Peter’s golf shirts were too small so I took out Andy’s old ones. Last winter, when Peter was outgrowing some of his pants, I took out several from Andy’s drawer. As it started getting cooler this fall, Peter said he needed new pants, and I again sent him to take out the last of Andy’s pants. There weren’t enough left and I began to realize that the ones Peter ‘inherited’ last winter are looking a little short as well.

So today I did two things that I have dreaded doing. First, I went to Target and bought Peter 2 new pairs of pants. Secondly, Peter and I went through the closets of shirts. Peter has been avoiding this task as much as I have. He has been wearing shirts that are much too small because the normal shopping trip to his brother’s closet was not going to be nearly much fun. There would be no groans or protests from Andy having to ‘give up’ a favorite shirt, and no big smiles from Peter as he got to take it.

Peter is 13 years old, but pretty small for his age. The number of shirts in his closet that were a size 8 is truly astounding. We took the clothes out and put it in a big pile on the floor. As is typical, he tried to claim that some of his favorites still fit when they very clearly did not. A couple of times I just gave in and put them back in the closet, but for the most part, they stayed in the pile.

Next came the trip to Andy’s closet. All of the clothes are size 12, Andy’s size when he died and now Peter’s size. We pulled them out and put them in a pile to go to Peter’s closet. Some brought too many tears so we just hung them back up. Peter even told stories remembering when Andy got a certain shirt. I asked Peter if he thought he would be able to wear them, and he honestly told me that he did not know. I told Peter that we would just see how he felt. If he wants to wear them, he can, and if it turns out to be too hard, he didn’t have to do it. There were many tears shed both by Peter and by me.

It is so hard knowing that this is the last time I will ever do that task. There is nothing in Andy’s closet that is too big for Peter now, and there never will be again. I will never get to buy more clothes for Andy knowing that I can spend just a little more to get higher quality so it will last through two boys. I will never need to buy the same super cool shirt in two different sizes so one won’t be jealous of the other.

I also thought today about the one thing that was missing from Andy’s closet that I had counted on being there for Peter. In May of last year, we bought Andy a nice suit for his confirmation that he also wore for Valeriano’s graduation a few weeks later. That suit is actually the first one he had ever owned, and he felt so handsome wearing it. Prior to that, if he ever had to wear a suit coat, I would just have him wear his coat from choir. I thought that confirmation was special, and he deserved a real suit. I also rationalized that Peter would be able to wear the suit in two years to his own confirmation and Kathryn’s graduation. I never would have dreamed that Peter would be unable to wear that suit because we would have to bury Andy in it just 3 months after I bought it.

As for the pile of clothes that we took out of Peter’s closet, that pile is now sitting in my bedroom waiting for me to go through it one more time. I had a friend offer to make a quilt out of some of Andy’s old clothes. I had not taken her up on this offer yet because Peter was still wearing them. Now, since Peter, too, has outgrown them, I guess it is time to start making a pile for the quilt. I suppose the rest will have to be donated somewhere. That, however, will have to be another day; this is all I can handle today.