Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monsters in the Closet

After Ellie died, Max did not go into her room at all for several weeks. It's not that we closed the door and told him no. He would stand at the doorway, linger a moment and then move on. Eventually, he started venturing in there to retrieve one of her bears or poke at her piggybank. But for some reason, the last couple weeks he has been spending a lot of time in there. I think it's because he misses her. He throws his "friends" into her crib (he even threw the piggybank in!), plays on the rocking chair & foot stool.
None of this bothers me. I like that he is in her room. I think that it means her memory will stay imprinted on his little mind for at least a while longer. Dave and I frequently go in to her room and have since the day she died. I go in several times a day to smell her giraffe, look out her window or stare at her empty crib. But one thing I rarely do, is go into her closet.
Max however, has found the closet to be an excellent place to play. I don't care that he's in there. I just don't want to see in there. So the other day when I walked in her room to find him, I was startled by the closet doors being open. I walked over to close them and for some reason, decided to look at her things.
Seeing her clothes makes me so sad. I loved picking out Ellie's clothes and getting her dressed each day. I loved picking out her hairbows. Clothes are so personal. I can't convince myself that Max used them as a baby too. They are Ellie's clothes. Clothes that she wore. And worse, clothes she never wore.
I must be a masochist because I started opening drawers. Little onesies I haven't seen in 3 1/2 months, rompers, and tiny pairs of pink pants with ruffles on the butt. I gently touched them. It doesn't even seem real that they have been there, untouched, for so long. I went to the other tower of drawers and opened up the pajama drawer, filled up with fleece fuzzy footies. Heartbreaking. I started searching for the pink ones with snowmen- the last thing she wore. Why? I knew it would hurt to see them, to hold them. But I did it anyways.
Before we knew how sick Ellie really was, my mom washed all of her laundry while we were at the hospital. Ellie had thrown up all over everything, and I mean everything. So my mom washed it so we wouldn't have to deal with it when we came back from the hospital. What we didn't know was that Ellie wouldn't be coming back with us. I have thought a million times how all of her scent was washed away. But I never once thought about the fact that my mom had also put her laundry away too.
It never crossed my mind until I opened the very last drawer. And the shock of two little long-sleeved onesies sitting on the top knocked the wind out of me. There were teo shirts, from baby Gap, so SO cute, sitting there, just waiting for me to find them. These onesies had been lost somewhere in my memory and I may have never remembered if they hadn't been there.
Two days before Ellie got sick, my mom and I took the kids to the mall. At Baby Gap, I bought Ellie three things: a red knit dress and two long sleeved onesies (Thankfully, I hadn't bought her Christmas Eve dress that I had been looking at- that would have killed me to find). Since the dress was red, I was worried it would bleed if I washed it with the other clothes. So instead of putting it in the hamper with the rest of the clothes, I put it downstairs on the laundry room bench. After Ellie died, I brought the dress to the neighbor for her daughter. I wasn't attached to it. Ellie never wore it. And it had never been to her room. I didn't have to take it out of her closet.
The onesies, though... they made it to her room. They are sitting up there. Tucked away waiting for a little girl that will never come for them.

Ellie's closet doors mark entry to another life. My old life. Things won't ever be the same without her here. When the doors are closed, it's easy to forget what's behind them. Pretty dresses, cute headbands, girly, twirly skirts. But when the doors open, there's no denying it. Ellie was here and now she isn't it. The clothes that she wore don't hurt as bad. I can think of the fun things we did when she wore them and my mind can see how adorable she was. It's the things that she never wore that sting. They represent every lost hope and dream we had for Ellie. They are the unfulfilled promise of the amazing little life of our Peanut.
I'm sure someday Ellie would have thought there were monsters in her closet. Well Ellie, there are. Just not what you'd expect.


Deanna said...

This brought me to tears, Tiffany. I don't know what it's like to go through River's room, because he was only home for 3 days, he didn't really have one, but going through his things, is still very hard.

Seeing the things he wore for those 6 days of his life, things we bought just for him will always be difficult. His little brother is here now, and got some of River's "hand-me-downs" (if you can even call them that) but when I see them sometimes I think that it's not fair, River never even had a chance to play with those toys.

BUT, there are a few special things that "belong" to River and always will. Thank you for sharing these moments with us. Thinking of you and your precious Ellie.

Tim said...

I always tell you how much your blog means to me and yesterday was another example. Our son Nick came down with the flu over the weekend and this was confirmed yesterday with a trip to the doctor. He had a temperature of 103, chills, body aches, headache, and of course lunch and dinner all over the place. I am a planner to where it is a fault I can't control. When we drive back to Storm Lake I can tell you where we will have to stop for gas, what town we will spend the night in, and usually what time we will see the lake for the first time. Nick gets sick, can't go to school for the week, so I put my plan in action. I advised my wife (during the flu briefing) that she could take a day off on Monday and I would use a sick day on Tuesday and then we would reevaluate the rest of the week. She politely told me that she would stay home with her sick child on Monday and Tuesday. I told her that wasn't necessary as I could handle Tuesday. She looked at me like I had three heads, all of which she would have loved to knock off of me! In a slightly lower voice she told me that she would stay home both days and I was free to stay home whatever day I wished but she would sit on the couch with our son with a cold wash cloth and rub his head until he felt better. I started my sentence, "That doesn't make any sen...." I stopped before finishing the word sense and thought of your blog and the way that every day you show me what a mother is and the pain a mother feels when their child is hurting. It clicked for me, just in time...

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