We packed away Christian's things rather quickly since he shared a room with Austin and Noah. I hated for them to open their closet door to grab a shirt and have to reach past his clothes. We put it all (except his jacket) in an orange bin (my color for him) and put it in another closet. Clothes and pjs... school supply box... golf club... Pinewood Derby trophy... red Converse shoes... blue blankie...
It was hard.
Sometimes I would go to the closet and grab his blue blankie and tuck it under my pillow. I could cry on my pillow and reach my hand under and feel it... the same blankie he would hold and hug and drag around. I would smell it.. touch it.. and no one else had to know.
It has been almost 6 years since he last touched that blanket with his dimpled fingers. I still remember the smell of it and the feel of the worn fleece between my fingers... There is a small tear in it (scissors?) and a spot of green paint near the corner.
There are days of grief where you want to shout from the rooftops that it hurts! You want to hang a sign around your neck that proclaims I.AM.HURTING.TODAY.
Other days you want to be left alone to quietly sob and remember and just sit in that grief, fully feeling every corner of the empty that cannot be filled.
We have since moved to Guam and left Christian's things in the attic in Texas. I often have to remind myself that we are not leaving him, just things... just things that remind me of him, him who I will never forget. I know I need to be okay leaving those things and I need to be okay if the whole house were to be destroyed. Some days it is easier to be okay than others.
For you newly grieving mamas that just don't know what to do with your child's room and things... take pictures. Take pictures of all of it... the clothes, the bed, the wall... If you aren't quite ready to make decisions about clothes and toys, even though it has been well over a year, put them in a bin and tuck it away for now. Maybe you can do something with it later? Or maybe it will just sit there for a long time. No matter what you decide, IT IS OKAY. There is no wrong way to do things and no time frame that you have to stick with.
When we repainted the boys room the following year, we saw pencil scribbles on the wall right next to Christian's bed. Pause. Cry. Remember. Laugh. Take pictures of scribbles. Cry a little more and keep painting.
There is no calendar or instruction manual on grieving. Give grace if you can to those that speak critically of the way you are grieving (or seem to not be grieving). Some might speak out of meanness, but most are well meaning and speak from love. They just don't understand... which is a blessing for them.
We, however, can choose to grieve with HOPE.
Every single day, make the choice to trust God. Trust Him with your hurt, your sorrow, your anger, your disappointment, your questions, your heart... It's not easy, but it is worth it.
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
It has been a long six years without you. I still try to sing unto the Lord and to look at life with an eternal perspective. Some days are more successful than others. It's a little too easy to get off track and take my eyes away from the Lord with all the daily tasks of life vying for my attention... Not to mention your little brother Ian's climbing antics and funny business... and your new sister Hope distracting us with her cuteness and grins!
Pssst... she looks so much like you!!! Blue gray eyes and such a whitey! She even started drooling just like you used to... a bib will have to be her go-to accessory.
I guess this is evidence that life does move on. It doesn't mean that we love you any less... It just means that we are learning to live with the pain of your absence.
We have decided to only make the trek back to Texas once a year for now. On our last visit I was able to stop by your grave. I was glad to see that the sod they had put down was flourishing and the dumb fire ants were diminished. Daddy still saves his hotel cards for you and leaves them. It makes me sad to see them because each card is a tangible reminder of him missing you so very very much. You were always so happy when daddy gave YOU his card instead of giving it Austie or Boah! And if it had a picture of pizza on the front, it was an even bigger treasure! :) When I think about your joy, I can't help but smile!
Ian enjoyed playing with our hotel card this last trip. I handed it to him and remembered how you would carry them around. I cried. It was good to cry.
Speaking of brothers, your big brothers still talk about you. Sorry, but you will always be little to Austin and Noah. They are almost the same height now-- and they both tower over me. I wonder how tall you would be right now? Would you still have blonde hair or would it have turned more brown? Would you still be a whitey or would you have developed a tan?
My cup truly runneth over. Even with the crack in my cup, the filling flows faster than the leak.
I thank God for the miracle of it all.
And I thank God for giving me you.
I love you, Christian Edward. Forever and always, always and forever.