Just recently I came across something in an online forum that was posted by another grieving heart mom. Her family was in the process of going through her son's room...packing his things away in storage bins. She didn't want to put them away, but at the same time was terrified that if they were left out that something might happen to them...that they would get ruined somehow. My heart ached for her as I read phrases like "Its all I can do to even function" and "I want to scream" and I found myself sitting in front of the computer with tears streaming down my face. These posts are not uncommon in my world. We have been there along with so many others. We packed up the material reminders of our little girl...put her things in boxes knowing that there was no reason to unpack them again.
I never posted about our packing process here on Little Miss Ritchie, but this woman's post got me thinking about it again. Our situation was a little different...we were moving...we HAD to pack things up. Lord knows I didn't want to... Charlotte's room had gone untouched up to that point. Her drool stained sheets still in her crib, her dirty laundry still sitting in the closet holding on to her sweet scent. The thought of disturbing her things literally made me sick.
I don't have the emotional energy to write about it, but remembered that I had shared some of our experiences with a friend of mine. One day she sent me a message asking how our move went. Most times I would answer that question with a simple "It was okay"...but on that day I just needed to get it out....I needed to be honest with her and with myself.
"Yes, packing was aweful. No fun whatsoever. I started doing it in bits and pieces...bath stuff, then books, then toys...I would talk to her the whole time about the things I was packing and promised her that even though her things were in boxes, that she was forever and ever and ever in my heart. At the rate I was going it was going to take me about 3 months to pack, so one day we just did it. I was up sitting in the rocking chair [in her room] and Matt just came in and started taking things off the wall...no talking, no nothing. We just looked at each other and knew that we had to get it over with.
Sucky suck suck suck. It was all hard but when we got down to her closet we cracked. Most of the things that were hanging there she hadn't even had the opportunity to wear because we were just getting into the warmer weather....they weren't the hard part. It was the laundry basket full of dirty clothes...the jammies she had worn the night before, the clothes that she had worn in the park on Memorial Day....sigh. They all smell like my little girl...and it breaks my heart because I know that little things like smells are the first memories to fade. I don't know if I will ever bring myself to wash them, but we folded them all neatly and stacked them back in the laundry basket. I don't know what their fate will be, but for now the whole basket is sitting by the rocking chair in our basement...soaking up basement smell and pushing out Charley smell. Gulp. My heart breaks just thinking about it. I haven't talked about that day at all...its been too hard...and now here I am sitting at the computer in tears, rambling.
Once things were packed I was just ready to move. The night before I sat on the floor in Charlotte's empty room until about 1AM. We talked about lots of stuff and she left me pretty reassured that we are going to be ok. Never the same, but ok. I thought that I would have a breakdown the day of the move, but in the end I just took the last picture, her picture, off the wall, said goodbye to our house and drove away tear-free. It was a good house. We have lots of good memories from it. But it was time to move on."
I'm not sure why I felt the need to post this today...I just needed to put it out there. People need to know that there is no "RIGHT" way to handle these situations. There is no timeline, no rules saying what must be done and when. When you lose a child all of the "rules" fly out the door. No one has a right to expect things from you...that you move on...that you put on a happy face...that you go back to being the same person that you were before tragedy threatened to break you. Whether you pack up your angels things 2 days later, 2 years later, or maybe never...its okay. YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU AND NO ONE ELSE.
As for us...we've unpacked some of our boxes again now that we have Mr. Harrison. We kept most of the "girl" specific things tucked away, but once again there are reminders of our girlie scattered around the house. H's nursery looks very similar to his sisters, he plays with toys that used to be hers, I comb his crazy hair with the same little pink comb. The items that are strictly "Charlotte" have found a home in a cedar chest given to us by Matt's mom. Some day I will go through it again...but for now I'm content just knowing that her things are there. After all, its the memories that I hold in my heart that are the most treasured.
Sigh. My love goes out to all of you who have put your children's things into boxes.