So I packed up your stuff. It was a loooooong over due task because it was everywhere in mine and your Daddy’s room. It felt so bad to see it not being honored as it should and yet it felt so bad to think about packing it up. I was right, it was horrible.
I guess I wasn’t prepared, I’m not sure why, for what it would be like. I didn’t think it through and because of it, I’m crushed all over again. I mean broken. Hurting and raw all over again. It needed to be done but it put a world of hurt on me baby.
I did ok at the beginning because I started with boxes I had previous put together. No big deal. I then moved to stuff I hadn’t originally put away and BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I was right in the middle of an emotional mine field. I wanted desperately to stop but I also wanted to be with you, I felt close, so I kept walking through. I also knew if I didn’t finish it would sit like it had for the past 3 years for God only knows how much more time. So I continued.
So what wasn’t I prepared for? Remembering. Not just remembering the moments but getting to touch the remnants of you while reliving those memories. My God, you were so little. Just a baby. Strange, while I know you died as a baby, you live on in my mind and you seemed to be so much bigger because of what your life grew into. It seemed like you were bigger because of how amazing you handled your tiny life with cancer and how much you meant to so many.
So when I found your tiny little blue sweater vest from the now infamous beautiful photo of you from Valentine’s Day … the one still on the header page, the one we used to send with your thank yous, the one people still tell me hangs on their refrigerator or on their office wall or in their child’s room … my breath was gone. There it lay in my hand, the soft cotton resting against my skin and my heart stopped. The vest so represented in the stages of your life by how the picture used. I was frozen as the mind flood of memories came washing over me and all I could do was hug your little vest and cry.
I cried like a baby over the little baby that was you. Over the little baby who’s life was forever altered by cancer. Over the little baby we never got to see grow up … never say a word, never really get to sit up unassisted for long, never take his first steps, never share a birthday with his twin, never, never, never, never. Too many never’s to ever count because they wash over me every day, new ones that I hadn’t considered yet … like at the local high school football game last week when I thought about all the great times I had in high school and how you’ll never get to experience that or as I watched Cole master riding his bike. Never.
So I shook myself out of it and I pressed on as the tears flowed, finding tear-free moments and a few smiles as I remembered how sweet you looked in the outfits as I gently folded them away. I was doing ok and moving through when I peeled back a layer to find the matching outfit to the one you were buried in, the darling little embroidered Dumbo onesie with the velvety soft ears; and once again the stabbing pain of loss came crashing down on me. I loved those little outfits and couldn’t wait for you two to grow into them … you were going to look so cute. Darling. But that wasn’t to be because as the tag fell from the neckline of the outfit, I remembered you and Cole never wore them together. In fact, Cole never wore his … and you will wear yours forever. I pressed it gently out against my torso and hugged it tight, trying to remember how you felt and cried loud choking tears over you.
I was able to regain myself and as I gently laid the matching Dumbo outfit down, I steeled myself for the rest of the task at hand … boxing up the emotion of loosing you again, battening down the hatches of grief for another time. Back to reality. The reality of life without you. Back to stacks of lovingly packed bins of your stuff, glimpses of you, until some time in the future when I’ll want to remember again how small you were against how amazingly huge your life is now.