Do you ever wish sometimes you could avoid places, things or people that have a painful memory attached? I know I do.
Somedays, I pick my battles…..if I’m feeling strong then I’ll attempt whatever the task might be. And on days when I’m feeling kinda fragile, or like when I don’t want my happy mood ruined, I don’t do those things that I know will bring me unraveled.
Well, on the weekend I had one of those days, where I had to face some memories that I knew would be challenging and drag my mood down…..but it couldn’t be avoided.
We’ve had our old furniture, and ‘stuff’ (it’s the stuff that always gets me) stored away in an old barn, down here in the country. But the barn has been sold so we had one day to move it all out. I knew it would be like opening Pandora’s Box…..and it was!
We drove the hour away to a muddy block, littered with puddles and weeds where the old grey barn is….where our past had been stuffed into cardboard boxes, what's inside has been scrawled on top with black sharpies. There were beds, a billiard table, mirrors, an old notice board, pinned with dusty photos of mum and Tarnia and Tone's wedding and…….Savannah’s stuff!
One of the mirrors I dusted off from our old Sydney house.
And one of the things that struck me was how we do things all the time not thinking of the future….not aware of the fact that time doesn’t stand still….things change like the fashions and people die. And when we boxed up all our 'stuff'' we had no idea that Savannah wouldn’t be returning, enchanted with all her baby toys, plastic colored blocks and other things we carefully wrapped and stacked away. We thought we were coming back for it, all of us………………
Peter and Tone unlocked and pushed the heavy tin door open, a musty old smell hit me first and then there it’s was…our old life, right before my eyes. I took a deep breath in, knowing it was only a matter of boxes until I found something of Savannah’s.
And through grief, you do become resilient, strong sometimes, and sometimes that strength crumbles, over something as small as a crib blanket in a mouldy old cardboard box, nothing cushions those blows, not even the many feather filled ones I saw scattered around the barn that belonged to our beautiful cream sofa…ten years ago!
Under a tarp was more 'stuff'. Years ago, Peter had spent hours in our garage in Sydney when I was pregnant with Savannah. Meticulously building a beautiful wooden change table, cradle and high chair. He would rush home from work and disappear into the garage, shaving away the wood and shaping it into furniture with all his love. It was difficult to see her things and reflect on the unfairness of how our world has changed in that time……but that’s grief, and I was ready for it.
You do learn to grow around your grief, to mould your life into something different.’ But unlike the spider webs that had grown and covered a lot of our things in the barn, that you can gently brush away….you can’t wipe away the webs of grief…..they don’t go away, ever. Grief continues to weave and intertwine in the corners of your life……you just learn to acknowledge it, pick your battles and embrace it some days. Like I did on Sunday.
I did grab a few things of Savannah’s that I couldn’t give away, throw out or leave behind. A small set of plastic dogs she loved that I remembered her playing with. I gave them to Demps, whose face lit up when I told her they belonged to her sister. And a soft fluffy mint green blanket that Mom had given me for Savannah. I still remember my delicate newborn swaddled in it. Dempsey saw it last night, hanging on the back of a chair here. She asked me a hundred and one questions about it! Asked me why the one Nannie bought for her wasn’t the same color and didn’t have the same toy figures printed on it. “Can I have it Mummy?” She asked. I told her I thought her sister would love that!
So today I washed the blanket, it’s flapping outside on our clothes line in the breeze……the plastic dogs I found scattered in Dempsey’s bed, she’s sleeping with them….. and the rest of the 'stuff' .....well, it's been re-stored in a shipping container or at the dump.
I had to let go of my child, say goodbye forever, but if some little memories can bring me a bit of peace, or comfort to Dempsey, then its silly not to hang onto them or to challenge a day where I know I will confront my emotions head on.
As Peter slammed the barn door and we left grubby and tired after the purge, I did wonder where we’ll be and who will be with us when we next open those boxes. But until then, I’ll continue to highlight the things I value like memories and mementos that are simply priceless to me!
PS; Hours after I posted this I had to add this picture I just took tonight as I put Demps into bed...I told her I had a surprise and gave her Savannah's blanket...she grabbed it and wrapped herself up in her pink blanket my mum gave her and also her sisters....you can see the happiness and comfort in her eyes....things like this pull at my heartstrings but also warm my soul so I had to share... :)