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.


Los Torrientes said...

Beautiful. Thanks to you, I will always see the significance in "small things" like puzzles. And I know that I am so lucky. I encourage others to realize the same thing, too. And you're so right. Everyone has had to let go of at least one dream... it's just that not all of them are as obvious and/or painful. I am amazed at your insight. As always, thank you! (p.s. I recieved your text and realized that I didn't respond. It was the least I could do. Please clue me in if I can do more)

audra said...

I met an older woman at the park a few days ago and she mentioned she lost her first child to stillbirth and a year later her second child lived only four days. I had a whole new understanding and compassion for her from reading your blog. She said too that it's just something you never forget or get over (she is a great grandmother now) and I was glad to have been able to express my condolences so much more accurately than I ever could have before, thanks to you. Thank you.

Katie said...

I'm sorry I just now saw your post...I wish I had seen it two weeks ago when you wrote it! I hope life includes a lot of chances to make others smile - though, perhaps, without so many tears or heartbreak that your family has faced. I hope that rather than sacrificial smiles, we find more collaborative smiles in this upcoming year. I hope that rather than one giving up, so the other can have...both can take a step forward together.

audra said...

Hey Kelly, I'd love to still follow your blog. Thank you!

Kathleen said...

I don't think you could have written a more beautiful post! My mom's mom passed away from breast cancer nearly 4 years ago. Her oldest daughter (my aunt) died during a tonsillectomy in 1942 when my mother was only 2 months old. My grandmother described in her autobiography how for a long time she left out the clothes that my aunt Carolyn had helped fold the day before the surgery. And she penned her painful emotions that plagued her when she finally put those carefully folded clothes away. She didn't want to disturb the last tangible trace of her 7-year old angel. When my grandmother died, we all had a sense of the joy she must have had when she was reunited with Carolyn, as well as her husband who died from colon cancer in 1961 and her son who died in a plane crash in 1976. Your angels who were only here a short time must be watching over you! I'm grateful you have two other little angels and an angel husband who love you forever too!

Angie said...

I am crying with you as well. I have just recently packed up the puzzles and baby toys and it took a lot longer than than I expected. I still have clothes in bags but can't go through them. I feel where you are and I cry with you.