Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Cleaning the Closet

I finally started it. I've been putting it off for over two months now. At first, I didn't know what to do with them - that neat row of freshly-washed-and-hung baby boy clothes, lovingly readied for a child who never wore a single one of them. But there they were, every day, right at eye-level when I opened the door to what is once again only Jeremiah's bedroom closet.

They seemed almost like an indictment, those tiny, cheerily colored outfits. In so many ways, we have done what needed doing - caught up on months' worth of negleted house and yard work, arranged for the organ donation and cremation, written the obituary, held a family gathering to commemorate Elijah's brief life. Paid the bills, bought a memorial tree, planted it, scattered his ashes, added his few pictures to our baby album, enlarged and framed the best two to keep his beautiful face near, stowed away some of his few possessions, incorporated others into our daily lives (his crib quilt was vividly colored and handmade, it now graces Jeremiah's dresser; handpainted in primary colors by my father), some special treasures (his hospital bracelet, crib card, Social Security card, a scribble Jeremiah drew for him, and two blurry Polaroids - 0ne from the night of his birth, which is the only picture in which his eyes are open, looking out calmly on a world he was soon to leave; the other our only existing portrait as a complete family. Miah is trying to get to the baby, I am turned to look at him while holding Elijah, and jim is struggling to keep hold of the wriggling toddler. Elijah is nearly lost in the glare from the flash. But all four of us are in that picture.).

A few things, though, I can't quite seem to tackle. I designed a birth-death announcement, then started second-guessing whether it would only make matters worse. I did a few thank-you cards, but can't seem to deal with the effort required to finish the job. Life intrudes.

And there was that closet, to be faced each and every day. I didn't want to put the clothes away, at first. To do so would have been a final admission that Elijah truly is dead (and a part of me still can't believe that this is so. These things only happen to other people, don't they?).

And what if we have another son? But, even if we conceive in the next week, which is possible if not likely, it would be close to a year of looking at those clothes. And I won't rush so to prepare if we do get pregnant again. Illogical, but it would seem like expecting too much.

So yesterday, I went out and bought half a dozen storage totes. Figured I'd exhaust the last of my nesting instinct sorting the clothes by size and gender. That way, whether we need them, give them away, or sell them, I will know what is where, without having to keep looking at them in the meantime.

Tonight, I started. Only pulling out a few of them at a time, as part of my routine cleaning. That way, I can pretend that it *is* routine, and maybe not get too down about the whole process.

And, who knows? Maybe, by the time I finish with them, I will be ready to attack the rest of the thank you notes.

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