Yesterday, the girls, Tara and I went on a cleaning binge. We attacked the panty and other various cupboards which house all the items that we refuse to decide whether to keep or not and instead opt to hide in the recesses of some closed cabinet somewhere. Imagine shoving the item into an already full space and quickly shutting the door. Out of sight, out of mind.
This has a wonderfully restorative effect on my mind almost as if the two were connected. Clearing the cabinets out, wiping down dusty surfaces, sweeping out corners, purging unused items and reorganizing those that remain seems to have the same effect on my mental storage as well. Clear cabinets mean clear thoughts. We'll see how long they stay that way...the cabinets or my mind.
Another task that we've put off is that of packing up Henry's room. Literally for years now, we've left his room exactly as it was the day he died. I've washed the windows and dusted occasionally, however the stuffed animals are still on his bed with his blankets, his clothes remain in his dresser and we pass by daily holding that one space the same as the world around continues on it's daily progression.
Keeping that snapshot the same has become over time a sense of comfort that I didn't anticipate. Months ago Tara and I had an exchange about it. "I dread the day that we're forced to pack up Henry's room." Tara, "I dread not being forced to do it." She meant, of course, not being forced to deal with something that outwardly appears that we expect him to return. As with many things that bereaved parents do, seeing it from our side, it takes on another meaning altogether. For us, stability is coping. Leaving his room the same for so long has allowed us to normalize, if that's really even possible, our lives without him. Not being forced to deal with it is stagnation, being forced to deal with it is painful. Leaving it the same for a time has enabled us to take our time with that inevitable day.
However we've had our hand forced just a bit with the pending addition to our family. Although it makes sense that if you've decided you've enough emotional capacity and desire in your life to accommodate another child after losing one, then it follows that you would probably have the analogous capacity to at once pack up old memories and prepare for new ones.
Easier said than done. After about 20 minutes of placing Henry's clothes, sheets and stuffed animals into large plastic bins and parting with some of his things that don't evoke memories, we were emotionally spent. Anna and Sophie both assisted in such a matter of fact way it was refreshing. Henry's ashes sit in the corner as we dismantled this space that was his, buffeted by the memories that come when you smell his clothes or see that shirt or recall him laying down to sleep at night remembering his voice speaking in the dark about those things that float through a four year old mind.
We decided then to stop and leave some for another day. We've learned to respect our grief. It can be unwieldy at times but we've learned to digest it in small bits. This project now though being in mid-stream, I've had to close his door. I'm not sure I can pass by with things strewn about his room in disarray. An old analogy comes to mind about silt in a glass. Once stirred it makes the water murky and difficult to see through. Let the glass be still for a while and the silt will settle to the bottom and things become clear once again.