Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A sale and a sob

In her essay entitled "Dust," in her book Long Life: Essays and Other Writings, Mary Oliver writes:
For the first time in twenty-five years there is no small footstool next to the bed, on which to break one's toes. The little dogs, first Jasper and then Bear, are gone. How neatening is loss, since it only takes away!

There seems a deep relationship between the stuff in our lives and the losses and gains, emotional and otherwise, that we sustain. So that a death of a dog means getting rid of the footstool. And getting rid of the footstool reminds us of - or makes more acute - our grief at the death. How neatening is loss!

Perhaps this is why I struggle so with releasing things, holding onto my stuff as a way of forestalling my grief over the real losses such release might represent. The losses have already happened, but letting go of the things somehow makes it more real, or makes facing the grief more necessary.

On Sunday, the day after the Big Sale, a woman called me to inquire about one of my cribs and the changing table. I sold them to her for $55 total. It's not much, but it's nice to have a little money to sock away towards furnishing the boys' room at some future point. And of course it's good not to have those two items cluttering up our back room, completely unused and unuseful.

But as the woman's husband walked away from me in the dark, with my changing table under his arm, emotions welled up and got caught in my throat. I made it all the way home before I broke down and cried. It was the changing table, even more than the crib, that pricked my grief. It was months and months before the boys moved out of our room and into the cribs. But we were placing those vulnerable crying babes on that changing table from the first moments we brought them home. Such tender moments, so many times a day, tending to our new little loves. Those moments have been long gone, but somehow the loss of those moments became real in a new way when the changing table was out of our lives. My grief was further intensified by the fact that the woman who gave us the changing table died last year. It feels somehow wrong to be getting rid of something she gave us.

Here's a picture of the boys when they were six weeks old and could both fit on the table at the same time. This isn't usually the way we changed them, but somehow this is one of the mosts vivid pictures in my mind when I think of their babyhood and the changing table. A reminder of how astonished we kept being that there were two of them!!

And here's a picture from a year later, a year ago, in their beautiful new fall diapers. I thought they had grown so much, and gotten so big. Now I look at this picture and marvel at what babies they still were. And I'm sure I'll feel the same way this time next year when I look back at this fall's pictures.

The passage of time has always been so bittersweet to me, but even more so now that I am constantly watching little ones become bigger ones, and then bigger ones still.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neatening is loss, and I'm trying to find the freedom in it rather than the loss, but I still feel it too. Everytime I give away a onesie, or sell a piece of baby equipment it reminds me that my little guy is bigger, and bigger yet

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. Your post made me cry.It is a beautiful, moving post. Wait til those precious boys are 22 yrs old. Yes, I said 22. The worry and everything else never ever goes away!! BUt the growing and learnign the children do!! It is amazing to watch them grow.

2:54 PM  

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