"Appa! Appa!" she said patting it enthusiastically. She definitely thought you were home. I went into one of my trances- the ones where your gaze gets fixed and you can't undo it- then my chest gets cold and I get the sensation of my milk letting down when I was nursing.
After she went down for her nap, a very brave friend, familiar with grief, sat with me while I turned the suitcase down flat on the rug, unzipped it carefully, and opened one of the compartments on one half of the case.
"Oh Dan," I said. I unfolded the clothes one by one. I wept quietly.
But the unexpected thing was that the clothes were all wet or damp and smelled horrible- musty and almost like a fire that'd been put out with dirty sea water. Did he drown carrying his whole suitcase? What happened? I have no idea.
But it surprised me and in a strange way helped. Only on one item did I smell even a remnant of him. So I put the heavy, soggy, clothes in our laundry basket. When Audrey woke up, I threw one load in, then another. I hear them now as I write. The chug chug chug of the washer, and the clink clink clink of a button or zipper in the dryer. It feels like I'm just getting them ready for you though. And I will have them freshly washed for when you return home.