is one of those phrases I would be happy never to hear again.
I spent part of yesterday with the mother of MsW's best friend and we went through her room. Her father is away right now and he wanted us to do it when he wasn't there.
"I can't face that. I'm a coward. I just can't face it," he told me. So A....'s mother stepped in to help.
Just unlocking the back door to the house, something I have done so many times, was hard. The house was tidy enough, clean enough. It was not quite as clean and tidy as it has been but it was okay. There was a pile of ironing in the laundry, an upturned mug on the draining board in the kitchen, some milk that needed to be thrown out.
J... looked at me and said, "I'll get some more milk later."
Up the passage and to the door on the left. It was shut. I felt as if I should knock on the door. Ciaranne was not the sort of child to shut her bedroom door. "It's just me and my Dad mostly. He never invades my space."
I opened the door. J... and I stood there for a moment.
"Her father must have done some tidying up," J... said.
"No. She was tidy... well tidier than most teenagers."
The room was not obsessively tidy but there were no clothes lying around. The study desk was tidy and the books in her bookshelf were stacked in a fairly orderly manner. The dressing table had some of cardboard seed pots and some seeds on it. That did not really surprise me.
"No make up?" J... asked me.
"Not interested," I told her, "Probably my fault. I never use it."
"I should have.... oh just let's get this done!"
We folded and packed clothes in the bags J...had brought with her. It didn't take long. There were no surprises until J... reached for some bags at the top of the wardrobe. She unzipped a bag and a cedar ball rolled out. She looked in and said, "Oh my god...she saved them all."
And out came the woollens I had made her and the "best dresses" J... had made for her. She had saved every item which had been especially made for her. There was her "koala" cardigan and the blue dress with the smocking across the front. There was her "rabbit" outfit and the skirt she had made with J...'s help. There was an envelope with buttons inside it - wooden buttons the Senior Cat had made for her to use "one day".
There were three such bags. Both J... and I were in tears again by then. We packed them again carefully.
The other things will go to her favourite charity shop, the place where she bought most of her "round the house" clothes.
These things need to be kept. J... has taken them with her. She is going to put them carefully to one side with the other things she has saved from A...'s childhood. When/if A... has a child of her own then they will be used again. It is what Ciaranne would have wanted.
Ciaranne always told me she "loved" what was made for her. It is the sort of thing we often say without really meaning it but to keep things like that and keep them so carefully.... that is practical love.