July 17, 2010

We’re turning Dot’s room into, well, Dot’s room.  N’s old desk has been turned into a changing table, we are clearing my old clothes out of her closet, and my desk now resides in the basement office.  It’s starting to look like a baby lives in our house instead of looking like a baby is visiting for a while.

When clearing out our bedroom closet to make room for things turned up in the shift, N took the white box out from the shadows, dusted it off.  It has more tape on it than any other box I packed for last summer’s move, and written on each side in big, deliberate letters, is the word “Fragile.”

Fragile.  Teddy’s Things.  Fragile.

I want to open it and I fear opening it.  I know all that’s inside, the casts of his hands and feet, the candle with his name on it, the memory boxes from the hospital, the blanket he died in and the clothes we dressed him in after he died and that somehow I thought would be cremated with him – little pajamas with moons and stars on them.  I want to integrate these things into my daily life somehow, but I don’t know that I have that much – grace? peace? strength? acceptance? – yet.

The ultrasound pictures will go in a book someday.  Someday when I have time to put it together, a record of a too-brief life, something his sister can look at when she starts asking about him.  But where do you put the plaster mold of your dead son’s tiny hands, the one with the pinky finger that you broke off when unwrapping it when you returned from the hospital in 2008 without your baby?  That pinky finger still calls up a well of pain from somewhere in my gut every time I see it.  It seems so unfair that the few mementos I have are so damnably fragile, so easily cracked and broken, so hard to protect, to keep, even to dust.

I fear that box, fear that opening it will release a breath of grief and that once I inhale it, the tentative steps I’ve taken forward from the moment of Teddy’s death will be revealed as weak and fumbling, that I’ll give in again to tears that won’t stop or worse, to dry and dull despair.  I fear that I’ll be torn between wanting to remember as much as possible and wanting to run from the memories, that I’ll end up packing everything back up and hiding it under the basement stairs behind the cat food and cleaning supplies.

At the same time, I want to open it.  I want to indulge in some remembering, to run even the really terrible images through my head one more time, to cling to every last scrap of Teddy that is left to me.  I want to hold as much of him as I can, in my head, in my hands, and I want to see if I can take it or if I’ll fly into a thousand pieces.  I want to dare the summer to do it’s worst, to roll me over with flashbacks to doctors’ offices, ultrasounds and MRI’s, and to the desperate intensity of the NICU two Augusts ago.    I want to see if I break, and if I do, I want to put myself together, again.

Then I worry that I won’t be able to.

Fragile.  Teddy’s Things.  Fragile.

The box says fragile, but I know the fragile thing is me.


  1. Beautiful post. Big hugs

  2. I debated on whether telling you this or not…but if you still have the pinky finger that fell off the hand cast you can glue it back on quite easily with white glue. Just a little dab will do you.

    Also, in order to preserve the ultrasound photos you might want to have them scanned because the photo paper the ultrasound images are on fade over time.

    Just some handy “memento” tips you might not have known.

    • Thanks so much, Emily. I’d wondered about glue, but didn’t want to cause any more damage than I already had. And the scanning is a very good idea – and a good reason to actually open the box.

  3. *gulp*

    I don’t know about you, but with Bea, I barely have time to open myself to my sadness, to allow my fragility to come to the surface.

    I wonder if you can get a plastic cube, like a baseball holder, for the castings. Those are a nice momento.

    And I am thinking I better scan my u/s pics!

  4. Oh, mama ((hugs))
    I was just thinking the other night if I want to open Ferdinand’s box on his anniversary. A part of me wants to, and needs to; and a part of me just does not want to, because I do not feel those things represent him.

    Sending you love. xo

  5. We still have most of Hope’s “things” out. So I walk past them every day. But I don’t often stop to *look* at them. There is more stuff in a box though, and I fear opening it for all the reasons you listed.
    Why is this all we get? How will this ever be enough?

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