Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Outgrown clothes

I was going through the boys' clothes today...moving Jack's "too smalls" over to Andrew's dresser, and making piles of giveaways of Andrew's old ones. I was flooded with emotion, and wasn't expecting that at all.

All these sweet, tiny clothes that they'll never wear again. Oh my. The history already! I don't wish them back small, as parenthood keeps getting better and better the more they emerge into themselves. It's enchanting to watch them grow.

But seeing those tiny little pajamas, or what Jack wore to his 2nd birthday, made me feel a bit overwhelmed. The turtleneck that made Andrew look so darn cute that I got teary-eyed. The adorable infant polo shirts, which perhaps prompted Jack's love for "gentlemen shirts."

Perhaps most emotionally charged, though, were the little clothes, now outgrown, that my mom had bought for them. And realizing that at some point, we'll have grown out of all the clothes she'd bought. And that made me feel very, very strange inside. Not sad. Not even wistful, so much. Just strange.

I am at peace with the loss of loved ones' physical shells, perhaps even more after losing my mom. I have been stunned at how present she remains to me. That I can just ponder on her memory and feel bathed in this cozy recollection and know that she'll never really go away for me. I didn't expect such vivid clarity, not so much because of her recency of death...but because of her importance to me. She's everywhere in my life. That comfort has eclipsed nearly all the negative grief I expected to feel.

I know that in large part, this is because of closure. Steve and I were saying that so much of grief seemed to be about "regret" more than missing who a person was. Had I not made it back in time, had I not seen her at the end, perhaps I'd be crushed with the wonderings about what I could have said to her.

But instead, there is a cozy warmth. A "Hi, Mom" feeling, like she's right there. Almost as if I can touch her. When I'm driving. When I see a zebra. When Jack talks about her. When I teach my students some English concept that she taught me. She's everywhere.

My dad was here in Virginia Beach this last week; this was the first visit without my mom. I thought there might be a gap of loss in his visit, and I was struck by the absence of her in some ways. When Steve and he went off to Lowe's to get supplies for projects, those are the times Mom and I would stay back and just sit and chat about things. But I could also just look around and feel her and that it was okay. She was present in all the ways we could ask to be present after death. That we were loved, adored, and not forgotten. That we are relevant and meaningful to those we leave behind.

Ah, such a legacy.

At some point, they'll no longer fit into the Hawaiian shorts she brought back from their trip, or the T-shirts from Alaska. And it might give me pause to give them away. But I saved her costume jewelry for Simone to play with, and I still have mementos of her all over the house. We don't need the clothes to remind us of her, to have her be important to our lives. But it does show how life marches on and keeps moving into new phases and ages.

I hope I am as loved and remembered as she is to me.


Doula Mommy said...

Oh SB, your post made me all misty-eye! I'm sending hugs and love your way (and I always cry when I start giving away out grown clothes, but I find that if I have a really good friend to give the nicer and more favorite pieces to, it really helps, and then I can see their LO's in them and it makes my heart so giddy!)
Have you ever thought about keeping a few pieces to make them a quilt later on? I've started saving a few of those really special outfits for each of them so that I can eventually make a quilt for each of them. That helped alot!

Sarahbeth said...

Jessica, that is so strange. I didn't see the comment before dropping those clothes off to you. How interesting to see this now. It did feel good to give those things to you! =) And there will be more, I'm sure, as Andrew outgrows Jack's.

Simone's newborn clothes, I saved as doll clothes for her. They fit my old Cabbage Patch doll, so I'll give them to her for a gift if she ends up being interested in dolls. And their most precious ones, like the little Baptismal suit, I'm keeping forever. But even the every day clothes seem so special and sweet, y'know? Cute little people.

Rachel said...

So comforting to read your post. Both of my parents are alive and I wonder how empty I'm going to feel when they're gone.