I started cleaning out the nursery. Not really for any reason in particular. I am putting away Christmas decorations and getting the whole house in order is just a bug that’s itching me right now.
Alex’s room has layers and layers of stuff. First, it was a catchall for any baby stuff in the entire house. Next, it was a place we would stash things if we were trying to keep the upstairs clean, then it became overflow as we would buy things for Benjamin- clothes he didn’t fit into yet. There are layers and layers of stuff in there. Seven months of layers, to be exact.
Last night I cleared through the first two layers to find the stuff that was really painful- the things that were pure Alex. I knew they were there, so I wasn’t surprised to find them. Perhaps I was just surprised to feel how hard it would be to revisit the things that were his. The clothes that only he wore, the plaster molds of his hands and feet, taken so lovingly after he died. His pacifiers, burp cloths, blankets and diapers, all mixed in with his death announcements, obituary printouts and pictures. It is collage of sadness.
I feel my eyes fill with tears and before I know it, I am faced with Alex’s death all over again. The emptiness in my heart of missing him, the heavy weight of wanting to feel him in my arms and the longing to smell his sweet baby scent.
It is ripe, fresh, new.
It’s not the same tragedy that I’ve been working through the last seven months. This feels different. Raw, painful, exposed.
I sort through the things that are Alex’s. Such a short life, marked only by photos and clothing- where are the real remnants of my child? The empty spot he seemed to fill in my mind, rounding out our family, and completing the vision I had for us. The special place he held in our lives, as Benjamin’s little brother. The short, staccato cries he would yelp when it was time to eat. The small curve of his hand around my finger, as I would nurse him until he fell asleep. Where is all of that, and how can I possibly accept the fact that all of those things are gone forever?
The only thing that remains of Alex is my memories of him. I feel like those fade every day. For every detail I recall, there are three other things I forget. At what point will I no longer have his memories to fill the hole in my heart?
Why did everything feel so good before? Was it just the euphoria that comes from an unexpected pregnancy? Will I go through cycles where things feel great, and then be completely leveled by a new facet of my grief? I don’t know.
I sort through the things that were Alex’s and I cry. I miss him all over again and the hurt is different. It’s not the numb ache I’ve learned to live with these past months- it’s something new. I don’t know what to do with his things, or this feeling, so I do the only thing I can. I compartmentalize them both. Alex’s belongings go into a tote. My hurt goes into a… I don’t know. I tuck it away for another time when I feel better equipped to handle it.
I’m just so surprised. I honestly thought I was all better.