One difficult aspect of moving out of the house was going through Constance’s things. This included disassembling her bed and taking it to Goodwill. My mother took it apart and helped me put it in my car. She felt it was too worn to be donated. This was largely because of the reinforced 2x4s we had added to the frame to make it stand up to Constance jumping on it.
People with sensory processing challenges, such as sensory processing disorder or autism, frequently find clothes itchy and uncomfortable. Itchy skin is also a side effect of the anti-seizure medication Constance was on. She was particularly annoyed with her clothes, which her father insisted she always wear and I insisted that she wear when she wasn’t in her bedroom. One day, Constance’s father came home and, seeing me sitting in the living room, asked where Constance was. “Jumping on her bed,” I replied. This was another activity he forbade but I indulged. Disappointed, he knowingly questioned, “Not naked again?” “Like mother, like daughter,” I replied. I unsuccessfully use humor to distract from how annoying I am.
Mom and I put the bed in the dumpster at the storage facility where we are renting spaces. Years ago, I worked for a charity that rented a spot at the facility. At that time, the dumpsters were available for tenants to use as needed. However, the new owners have placed small, “Dumpsters are for management only” signs on them. Then and now, the dumpsters are mostly empty. I figured they probably wouldn’t care about the bed being in the dumpsters and, if they did, I would just pay for the dumpster to be emptied. Given the high fees we pay to store items there, it seemed like it would be a drop in the bucket of our moving costs. Throwing the mattress and frames out, I was struck by how much of life is really a waste and what a shame that is.
My mother seemed to be nervous about upsetting people and the potential cost; two things I believed I no longer cared about. When your child dies, you stop being anxious. The worst has happened. Everything else that could go wrong is small.
Later that day, when we were moving more furniture to the storage area, the manager stopped us and asked about the bed. My mother immediately burst into tears; she’d make a terrible spy. If it was possible to feel worse that day, I did. I turned to my mother, told her I would take care of it, and then walked into the office with the manager.
The manager offered to wave the fee for using their dumpster if I wrote them a good review on Google or Yelp. When I got out my phone, I realized I hadn’t downloaded those apps. Without my iTunes or Google password, I was stuck. My phone offered me the option of resetting my password with my credit card on file. In a stroke of continued bad luck, I had canceled the associated credit card the day before. A replacement would arrive later that day. The manager looked at me impatiently, as if she had heard it all before. She folded her arms dramatically. My mind flashed to a scene in The Crown when the Queen Mother complained that they kill you with a million little indignities. Then, my mind went to the appropriate shame at being so narcissistic that I would compare my life’s hassles to that of the Queen Mother.
I pulled out my angry-cat wallet and told the manager I would just pay for the dumpster to be emptied. In doing so, a laminated fingerprint card fell out. The manager realized aloud that I was the woman who had been crying about my dead daughter in her office and that it was my daughter’s bed I had thrown out. She immediately told me that I need not do the review or pay. I insisted that I would write the review when I went home to pick up the next load, and I did.
I did not write in the review that being at the storage area was like feeling the stabbing pain in my heart vibrate through my entire body. While giving them the maximum number of stars, I found myself wondering how many other reviews were based on coercion. I then wondered why I never contemplated the stick when trying to motivate other people to do things. Then I remembered that I don’t have any power and so I could only motivate with carrots.
Since that day, the manager has been greeting me and opening the garage doors for me whenever I bring more things over. I still cry in her office every time I need to do something like buy more boxes or update my credit card information. The last time she saw me, she said, “There’s just no end to it, is there?” I concurred, “It certainly feels that way.”