There are a lot of things in my house and in my life that have stories to tell. I hold onto things. I keep them around as reminders. I have post-it notes with encouraging things written on them all over my desk at work. I have scraps of string and yarn from retreats and conferences. There are five rocks that I found along the shores of Lake Michigan sitting on a bookshelf in my living room. Jars of sand from the gulf shore have landed on end tables and shelves.
Physical reminders are really important to me.
So, as I was getting ready this morning and packing my things for a weekend retreat away with my high schoolers this weekend, I was caught off guard by the physical reminder of a shirt that has been hanging in my closet for the past eight months.
This denim shirt was a Christmas gift that Scott received from his parents two Christmases ago. He never wore it, as denim shirts aren’t really his style. It had hung in the closet on his rack for almost a year and a half before it ever saw the light of day.
As I was finding myself more and more pregnant in early July, I was finding it more and more difficult to find clothes to wear that actually fit. I remember on the morning of July 3, grabbing this denim shirt from Scott’s rack and throwing it on over a maternity shirt for church on a chilly Sunday morning. I’m not sure if it was because I was wearing Scott’s shirt, or because people were just extra observant that morning, but I vividly remember receiving more comments than usual that day about how I was “really looking pregnant.” We were all coming off of the joy and laughter from the previous Wednesday’s baby shower hosted by the youth group families, and reality was really starting to set in that we would soon be parents.
That Sunday morning was the last time I was in worship with my son.
I came home from church that day, and hung that denim shirt on the hooks in my closet, assuming I’d probably need to wear it again before the baby was born.
That was eight months ago today. It was the last really happy and worry-free day that I can remember. The shirt that I was wearing that morning hasn’t moved from that hook in eight months. In many ways, it is a daily reminder of what my life was like before we lost Alexander. It’s a reminder of what life was like when Alexander was still alive and tumbling and wiggling in my womb. It’s a reminder of the joy that he brought to our lives and to the lives of the many people who were so looking forward to meeting him.
This week has been hard. There are a lot of unknowns that make it that way. Because we don’t know exactly when Alexander’s heart stopped beating, all we can know is that sometime in the next three days, we will cross the point at which Alexander will have been gone for longer than he was alive. That difficulty is amplified by the fact that I will be away from home this weekend.
So, even as I pack up my duffel bag and load my sleeping bag into the car for a weekend away, I am reminded by a simple shirt of how different my life should be. This weekend would look so different if our lives had continued on the course they should have from the last time that shirt was worn. Oh, how different life would be.
So, today I spent some quiet moments in Alexander’s nursery just sitting and being and remembering and missing my sweet boy. Oh, how I am missing that boy today.