As you will know from my blogs, life after loss is often a countdown to dreaded milestones, painful memories and difficult events.
So far, we’ve faced post mortems, funerals, anniversaries, a birthday and so much more, but none have been put off for quite so long as getting Avery’s belongings back out from the day we packed them away.
The last time I saw all of Avery’s belongings we’d been collecting for her, she was alive and well in my tummy. I remember being slumped in a ball in the car on the way home from the hospital after saying goodbye, I suddenly had an episode at the realisation that all her precious clothes and belongings were waiting at home, just sitting there collecting dust ready to remind me of what we had just lost – I was not in any state to see that. My mum made sure she went upstairs first and shut the door so I couldn’t see anything; I couldn’t see them but I could feel their presence on the other side of the door, I could almost smell them.
Despite being a grieving mess after seeing her daughter go through the worst experience of her life, my mum bravely packed up her car with everything … and they’ve been in her attic ever since.
I’ve known throughout this pregnancy at some point they’d need to resurface, as many of them were gender neutral (I like whites and greys) and so her little brother could make use of them. But, up until recently I’ve understandably just not been ready to face them. A couple of month back we were at my mums and Steven suggested getting them out – I broke down in the middle of a restaurant, it was too soon and I’ve been terrified ever since that I would never be able to get them out.
The day finally came
With us finalising all of rainbows things recently and not being sure exactly what we had at my mums, I knew it was time. Last weekend, my mum and her husband planned to come round for the evening and make a nice night of it – that made it easier to adapt to.
I made it very clear that I only wanted them to bring gender neutral items – I just couldn’t face anything bespoke for Avery or girly, they are her things and always will be, my raw heart just isn’t ready for that yet, not even after 15 months of losing her.
My mum had to get Chris to get them out the attic, I think even she couldn’t face Avery’s girly clothes.
When she pulled up on the drive, I opened the door and she started carrying it all in. I asked her to put it all on our bed so I could see it all laid out. It was very hectic for the first 15 minutes, we had so much more stuff that we first thought so it took a few trips to get it in. With every new trip I saw another item which pulled on my heart a little bit more, but I kept it together until I knew I’d have some alone time with them.
Finally it was all laid out, and everyone went upstairs. I crept away and slipped into the room. My chest tightened and my eyes filled up, with every blink I saw another precious item and remembered the moment I’d bought it – it was really REALLY hard to them all as it brought back so many memories.
I missed her more in that moment than I have in a long time (and I miss her a lot, constantly). Some things were easy to see; playmats, bottles, etc. But, then there were some adorable things which really broke me. These little boots were the hardest things for me to face funnily enough, I remember us buying them and me falling in love – her little toes are one of my favourite parts of her and I guess it hurt that I never got to put them into the booties!
After 20 minutes of crying, Steven came in and he just looked at me – he understood how hard it was for me, it was for him too. He just held me and let me cry in his arms for a little while, surrounded by everything.
As with everything, once the tears have flooded through you put your big girl knickers back on and it gets easier. I’ve accepted that these are for rainbow now, little gifts from his big sister which I know she’d want him to have and enjoy.
I admire loss parents ever day, because its events like this which make loss so very testing on the heart. I’m a firm believer that it’s all about moving forward at your own pace, not moving on.
One day at a time .. XO Nicole