Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letting Go

I just packed up several floor puzzles that my kids have enjoyed over the years. I set them out on my porch so that a neighbor who I have never met can come pick them up today.
I joined an online "group" called Freecycle. You post stuff you are willing to part with - for free- or things you need. People around you who are willing to give or get respond. Someone requested puzzles for toddlers a few days ago. I knew exactly where mine were; up in the closet in what used to be my kids' room before it was baby-ized for our expected Claire. Now the room that stays cold because the door's always shut and not a lot of heat or family circulates in there.
But memories are still there. Most recently, the gut-wrenching challenge I had in converting remnants of Jackson's life into hopes for Claire's life. Before that, the joys of having two kids who loved each other and played so well together that they shared a room and all their toys.
My son, especially, loved puzzles! His eyes were focused when he built on the wood floor. He saw patterns and attacked the task of forming them. It's been at least 4 years since those memories were peiced together. Every now and then the kids bring the puzzles into my room and put them together. It takes them about a minute now.
 I've never parted with the puzzles even though developmentally the kids have moved on. I was too anxious to share them again with another child, to watch that child's mind expand and their eyes flicker as they mastered an important skill. Some of the animal floor puzzles I was given by an older mother when my son was just a tiny baby. He was too young to use them but she and I were both so excited to share life with this baby that they seemed appropriate gifts. I don't want to let those young, naeve, everything-is-perfect-because-my-baby-is-perfect feelings go. I wanted to relive them, I guess, in our future.
But that's not how our future's been. We have had four empty spaces without any puzzle memories; without many memories at all.
Now, as I become willing to let go of the puzzles, I'm letting go of a dream that I fashioned for my family. So many American women don't have to do this. I think especially so many Mormon women never have to do this. But if I'm honest, I think that more than I am rare, they are just lucky. It's not rare to be spared pain and loss in life. I don't think I know a person who hasn't had to let at least one dream go. It's just so hard to do when it's for your children.
But I feel this tiny whisper in my mind as I slowly let go of saved toys, clothes, and memories... Isn't that what your life is supposed to be about? To be willing to give up something in order to let someone else smile? Isn't this at the core of parenthood? Sacrifice? Giving?
So I'm letting go of the puzzles today. I'm not really ready to let go of the little outfits yet that unlock so many memories for me when I see them.  Still I know that there is a purpose in life even greater than parenthood. I have to be willing to go further than I think I can, give more than I feel comfortable with, and create happiness when there's none there spontaneously.
I share this because this is one of the moments I know other parents with buried babies have faced. Others many not see the significance of small things like puzzles, or other bobbles that represented a happy future. But you have. You do. I'm sorry for you to face these moments. But you are not alone. I'm crying right here with you.