I was almost to the bottom of the pile. Stacks of clothes begging to be sorted by size and season and gender, all discarded into a heaping mountain in the corner of the closet. A nagging mess that I would get to one of these days.
In an attempt to feign organization, I dove in. Slowly deconstructing the mass of sweet scented baby clothes, I busied myself with finding their place in storage bins and willing away the sentimental thoughts of how fast my children were growing.
I needed to complete this undertaking without tears or a long episode of staring into space.
My fingers slipped through soft, pink fabric, much too tiny for me to wriggle my daughter into, already a year old at the time. I folded the squares of sleeve back and began to tuck in a tiny line of snaps. Hadn’t I folded this once already?
Hadn’t my hands stack it gingerly into bin number one, already sealed?
This forgotten piece did not belong to my daughter who was living.
It belonged to the one who was not.
For a moment, a brief moment of the lingering delirium of grief and the desperation of a broken heart, I dared to turned around.
Was there one more crib in the room behind me, finally occupying that space of unworn carpet?
Her shirt was piled up just as the others. She must have been here to wear it.
The past year, nothing more than a nightmare and now, now I was awake.
I turned around.
Reality gripped my chest, my heart crumbled.
There were still two cribs where there should be three and the only piece of her in the room sat in a pearly box high atop the dresser.
I chastised myself.
Of course she was not here. What planet was I on? How could one of her things be laying here so carelessly? Why wasn’t it carefully folded, tucked away in her bin of untouched memories?
My attempt at organization was lost. My mind was frayed. Visions of the life that wasn’t swept me away in tears.
I was flooded with grief.
This tiny onesie frozen in my hands? One third of a gift, opened not long ago, splayed across my expanding belly. One for each of the girls and one in blue for their brother. My beaming pregnant self dreamt of it worn with pig tails and little jean shorts and matching socks.
Dreamt of it worn.
I look back on that woman sifting through the remnants of the first year, as if storing and labeling them would make sense of it all.
I was sinking in grief while dangling from hope. I should have been gentler on myself.
I wish I could have seen the moment for what it was: a brief second to have my daughter back, a time when she was treated just like the rest of the bunch… heaped in a pile of love, folded tenderly in my arms, blossoming into the next size.
This piece was written in response to the Red Dress Club prompt:
Write a piece – 600 word limit – about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it’s so meaningful to you or your character.
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d, the undomestic ho says
Oh Jessica.. So beautifully written. You brought tears to my eyes, and streaming down my cheeks.
Jessica, this was beautiful. I cannot imagine the loss of a child nor could I imagine a mom to have experienced it, putting into words so eloquently.
Heartfelt as usual Jessica. I always find myself lost in your posts. I am there with you until I see your signature and then I snap back to reality.
This was gorgeous. Baby clothes have hurt my heart too. But not a hurt that could compare to this.
Thank you for this…
Sugar Mama says
Before reading this post I read the "about" section and I want to hug you. So, instead of typing something just to type something I'll give you the only hug I can ((((hugs))))
I keep reading this over and over again. I wish you could have her back too.
"untouched memories" nearly did me in, I can't even imagine your pain, I hope that anyone out there experiencing what you have experienced finds some comfort in your words and your bravery.
Oh, friend. I am so, so very touched by this exquisite piece of writing. I have chills and tears and all of the things that you want to incite in readers. But your grief and heart- I feel and hear and see those, too. You are heard. And I'm sending you love and light and comfort.
What a beautiful post. I feel for your heartbreak!
Elaine A. says
Amazingly heartfelt and heartbreaking all at the same time. thanks for sharing with us even though I know it's hard…
That last paragraph is so wonderful. That brief second, remembering when Hadley was treated just like the other two…a priceless memory. Hold onto that.
…I know… :'(
I love that you can look back and wish you'd been gentler. But everything you felt, everything you needed to feel, has led you to where you are now.
Beautiful writing, Jessica. Just beautiful and heartbreaking.
Oh my. This is beautiful and heartbreaking.
Your feelings pictured so fully.
What the heck and where did you come from?
I mean, like a steam engine at full boor…..your writing is from another place.
I don't think this planet can contain your words…which may be why you write the way you do…to reach her.
She hears you.
That was so raw and so touching I am sorry for ur loss.
But thank u for sharing those feelings with us.
Thank you for writing this piece with all of your heart. I don't think I could have held onto myself through these words.
Your writing is incredible and through each line I know I am reading your heart's thoughts.
"sinking in grief while dangling from hope"
The hope, the knowledge that you can look back on this moment and see yourself so unflinchingly, your ability to take us there with you… all so beautiful!
Oh, this made me cry. It is such a bittersweet post. I loved this line: "a brief second to have my daughter back, a time when she was treated just like the rest of the bunch… heaped in a pile of love, folded tenderly in my arms, blossoming into the next size." Wonderful, wonderful post.
The JackB says
Mrs. Jen B says
So beautiful, and so wonderful of you to share this with us the way you have.
It breaks my heart to read this, Jessica. I cannot imagine the loss you have experienced and what that must be like.
This just breaks my heart. Looking at tiny outgrown baby clothes is hard enough as it is. I can't imagine. What a beautiful piece. Hugs to you.
Jennie B says
Another beautiful piece. It is those small things that catch us off guard, isn't it? I can handle my brother's birthday and various holiday, but when I come across something randomly, almost like he put it there for me to find, my heart, as you said, crumbles.
Beautiful piece. It must be so difficult. To wrap everything up and put it away, then have something peek out and unravel it all.
The Flying Chalupa says
Amazing how we are completely undone by something so small but that triggers so powerful an emotional response. Grief takes a long time to work through, doesn't it?
Jessica, I love reading your pieces. You really have a gift; painting a vivid picture with your words. Not only the picture, but the feelings and emotions to go along with.
Oh Jessica, some days you make my heart ache and tears spill. This is really beautiful and you had me hoping, just like you, that it was all a dream. That all these stories were a hoax and we really do live in a world where all babies are okay…always.
Bless you and your angels…those on earth and in heaven.
Oh friend! This was so beautiful, so…
You described an action that every mother has done: Folding and storing clothes too small for the rambunctious children running through the room. And yet, you also described a moment of hope and pain that made me want to wrap you in a hug, pull you into the kitchen and make you a cup of tea.
Your last paragraph hit me so hard. Because I've never been there, I don't KNOW. But you showed me what it would be like.
Beautiful, honest, BRAVE post.
Honoring Our Angels says
Beautiful and touching!
Oh, my. I'm not sure I have words except for WOW. You wrote an amazing piece. I could almost feel your grief. ALMOST. ((HUG))
Terri Sonoda says
Just lovely! Tears in my eyes!
it made me cry and i am still crying as i type this comment! beautiful and very touching, your life is in my soul now after reading this xxxx
Pamela Gold says
Living in absolute wonder. She's there, you just can't physically touch her anymore, but she's with you.
Martine Brennan says
Beautifully written…I went through the same thing at the clothesline one day. Hugs
My heart broke along with yours as I read your words. You are an exquisite writer.
As always, Jessica, this is tender and lovely.
In a piece, just filled with beautiful writing, these lines stand out for me:
"This forgotten piece did not belong to my daughter who was living. It belonged to the one who was not."
"How could one of her things be laying here so carelessly? Why wasn’t it carefully folded, tucked away in her bin of untouched memories?"
I hug my children just a bit closer every day because of you, Jessica. Thank you for that.
Tracy Morrison says
Oh hon. So raw. So honest. Thank you for this beautifully written piece. Love. xoxo
Rebecca Aziz says
Beautiful – it needs no more words – you describe the feelings perftectly. You are an amazing writer Jessica x
Thanks for writing this. It must have been difficult to write. You wrote it beautifully.
Kelly K says
I see we were both inspired by the piles of baby clothes that attack us.
This memory, this heartbreak, I can't even imagine. I know you love your children, but that reminder that one more should be there that pops up when you least expect it – it has to be like someone slamming into your stomach with a baseball bat amid full swing. As mom's we can prepare, we can steel ourselves, but those surprises sneak in.
Know that she will always be with you, just not as you intended. In the odd, twisted, and unexpected way of life, something tells me she "sent" your rainbow baby to you – because who really has time to procreate with that kind of chaos? 🙂
This was beautifully written, the descriptions pulling me into your story. I was you at first with "In an attempt to feign organization, I dove in." Then I stayed with you, following you, was you, as the story continued – requiring a quick grab for the box of tissues.
You have a gift. I'm so glad you share it. – Kelly from Writing with Chaos