Bereaved Parents Month 2020: They’re Not Just “Things”

I was surprised at myself.

When we cleaned out Dominic’s apartment two weeks after he left us, I couldn’t throw away a thing.

Just as Dominic left things when he went out that evening.

Even though it meant boxing it up, carting it down the stairs and loading and unloading it onto our trailer, I DIDN’T CARE.

If it was his, if his hands had touched it, his body worn it or he had placed it in the cabinet or fridge, it was coming with me.

The only thing I left in that space was the empty echo of his fading presence.

I brought all the rest home.

Because these things aren’t just things. They represent some portion of my son-his personality, his preferences, his history and his hopes.

Many are the minutiae that make up a life:

  • scraps of paper tucked inside his briefcase as reminders
  • a dry cleaning ticket in his wallet
  • a legal pad on the table where he was taking notes to study for an exam
  • receipts from recent purchases strewn on the kitchen counter
  • shaving cream, hair products, favorite soap
  • clothes and ties and shoes
  • a fridge full of food he’d chosen for himself
  • the good coffee
  • containers saved from food I’d sent home with him

Of course there were the larger items most folks would think of bringing home if not keeping-furniture, computers, his car, television and stereo.

We put the delicate and temperature sensitive things inside the house.

The rest was placed in a storage building on our property. Every time I opened the door to the building for several years it smelled of Dominic.

I loved it and hated it in one breath.

I’m using his furniture in our living room. His television set is downstairs in the family room. Some of his other things live in his siblings’ homes.

We’ve all found ways to touch what he touched last.

I am slowly getting better at getting rid of some of Dominic’s things.

Just yesterday my husband replaced faucets in the bathroom my boys used growing up. In the process we pulled out stuff from under the deep cabinets.

Tucked in the back were some old bottles of hair gel and other half-used, dried up products that once belonged to my fashion conscious son who was always trying to tame his curly hair.

I grabbed them and tossed them into a plastic trash bag as we prepared to put replace things underneath. I almost pulled them back out.

Sighing, I tied up the bag and took it straight to the big curbside garbage can before I could change my mind.

These things aren’t *just* things.

Every time I get rid of something that was Dominic’s I feel like I’m erasing a little bit more of HIM. I feel like I’m losing one more touchstone to help my mind hold onto memories that might slip away without it.

They are a tangible connection that I can see, smell and touch to a child with whom I can no longer do any of those things.

I suspect I will always keep at least a tiny stash to pull out on heavy days or birthdays or just days when my heart needs reminding.

And I’m OK with that.

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

7 thoughts on “Bereaved Parents Month 2020: They’re Not Just “Things””

  1. Luke didn’t have a place to lay his head in the 6 months before he left us, he was staying with us. We had downsized years before and given the children anything that belonged to them. He had always been good at “travelling light” and therefore most of his few belongings were already in boxes at our place.

    I treasure the things we chose to keep xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The timing of your post was most definitely God’s timing for me. Just last night I reached under the sink in my daughters bathroom and forced myself to throw away her hairbrush, straightener, and curling iron. After I put them in the trash can, I too had to convince myself not to reach in and pull them back out. To be honest, if the trash can had been fuller and they had been easier to reach I just might have. Four years after she left this world for Heaven, her bedroom remains pretty much as she left it the last time she left the house. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone and that my struggle is valid. I too feel like every time I remove something from the house that belonged to her that I am removing another piece of her from my being. I am so terrified that in a few years it will feel like she was never here at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thankyou for always being so raw and honest. Everything I feel you put into words. Dominic is a lucky boy to have a momma like you. Im sure he smiles often at you- I hope you feel it.

    Like

  4. I understand how you feel, I saved everything we boxed up from my sons apartment. When I was ready I brought the clothes in and washed every piece, folded and gave away to men who needed them. I had my grandson pick out shirts that reminded him of his father and cried as he told what he remembered they were doing when he was wearing it. I had a quilt made for his bed so when he spends the night he can pull it up over him and know his dad is still with him. I also have the video of his testimony so I can hear his voice and never forget it. Jonathan’s mother 2/28/77-5/5/18

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am grateful that I’ve found another parent like me. No parent wants to be in this situation. I think it is beautiful how you listed the items you found, and how important they are. I recently changed my blog from a writing blog to one about my daughter, Corrie, who died five weeks ago. I’ve started going through some things, but I completely relate to how things are not just things. They are pieces of our children in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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