I have a box within which I store all of Rowan’s things. Her personal things; a lock of her hair, meaningful mementos, photographs, notes, cards from friends, and other bits and pieces that were a part of her during her time here with us. It also contains various things that I have collected “for her” over the years.
It is a little wooden box that was given to me in the days after we arrived home from the hospital. It is stained dark brown, and is lined in green felt. It has a hinged lid, and when you open it you find all kinds of things that have accumulated in the days, months, and years since she died.
I have big plans for those things; I intend to compile a scrapbook, a photo album, and a shadow box to be displayed in our home. I mean to frame several of those photos and add them to the two that we have presently. I mean to do so many things with them, for her and for me. But just about every time I begin to hash out these ideas I say to myself, “there is no rush”.
I am haunted by the idea these words paint in my mind. The idea that “there will always be time” to do these things. It is not just the fact that there will always be time, but mostly it is the reason why that is hard to really think about. The reason is that she will always be dead. Well, of course she will always be dead; that is the point, isn’t it? That is what all of this is about, after all.
Intellectually, I understand the finality of her death. It is not as though I have lost my grip on reality. But coming out and stating it in that way is somehow so much more real and permanent to me. My breath catches in my throat, and I feel suddenly heavy with sadness whenever these words want to slip out. It seems such a small detail. Splitting hairs, semantics… but for me it is more than just this word choice. Somehow this pair of words represents the depths of my loss and the fact that I have so much of my life ahead of me to live. Granted, nothing about my life-expectancy is certain… but should I be blessed enough to live to a ripe old age, I will have spent more than half of my life remembering my dead child.
It is not a matter of having more important things to do. And it contrasts so completely with my obligations to do these types of things right now for my living children. I have to be more timely in the goings-on when it relates to my living children, for all of the obvious reasons. They are here, they are growing, they are having birthdays and milestones. I take pictures and have to share them with friends and family in a timely manner. All the while in the back of my mind I have this other to-do list that is growing stale.
Maybe that is the trouble I am having… the fact that there will be no more photos added to her pile. Perhaps I am reluctant to complete these projects because as I finish her scrapbook and I close the cover I will never again be adding things to it. Maybe a part of me likes having these things left incomplete? I still do not like the thoughts and feelings that are brought on by those two little words… so maybe it is time to find another way to express it.
Even today, as these thoughts have grabbed me yet again, I cannot help but plan out in my mind all the creative projects that I want to do for my little girl, for myself to honor her, to share her with others… but just as quickly as these plans form so does the thought that I could actually get to that next week, or next month. Because I do not want to check these items off of that to-do list. I am simply in no rush to be done with them.