Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Packing up my past

Getting rid of stuff in order to sell our house and move into our new condo has been tough (as I've already moaned to you in previous posts...!). But so has packing up stuff that I intend to keep, too.

The packing has already started:  when our real estate agent first came over to have a look at our house, she encouraged us to start decluttering and packing away extraneous stuff right away. We did a lot of purging when we painted the house last fall -- but I've read enough and seen enough realtor listings that I knew the drill when it comes to getting your house ready for sale: clean surfaces, no personal photos, minimal tchotchkes (sp?).

Presumably, this includes keepsakes from lost pregnancies. (ESPECIALLY keepsakes from lost pregnancies.) I knew it would be hard to get rid of and pack away my stuff, but putting away all my Katie and infertility-related stuff was harder than I thought it would be. Because I walked into my bedroom & looked around, thinking, "well, this has to go, and this, and this, and this..."  Including (but not limited to):
  • Several angel figurines from different friends, on top of the piano.
  • The lovely quilt square made by a former support group client, now a dear friend.
  • A Classic Pooh suncatcher and stained glass angel, hanging from my mirror.
  • Katie's ultrasound photo on top of my dresser, in a baby-themed photo frame with the inscription "We dreamed of you."
  • A framed photo of me in my hospital bed, holding Katie, with dh & my mom at my side.
  • Boyd's Bears figurines:  a pregnant mama bear and a little girl bear on her first day of school (bought the week Katie would have started Grade 1).
  • The Swarovski butterly dh gave me for Christmas one year.
  • A Classic Pooh music box that plays "Little Black Rain Cloud."
  • A baby bracelet & "message in a bottle," both crafts made in support group sessions.
  • A little green stone inscribed with "believe," which has sat on my night table for the past 17 years -- a gift from a fellow loss mom that I met when I first went online. (Caprice, if you're out there somewhere, I still have it & I still think of you!)
  • A stuffed stork that's sat on the headboard of our bed for years, first as a ttc good-luck token and then (when it became apparent THAT wasn't working) as birth control (lol).
And I felt a pang when I realized I had to pack it away (if only for a little while). Not just because it's "clutter" -- but it's clutter of an extremely personal and sometimes shocking nature, for people not acquainted with pregnancy loss, who think it's a subject to be swept under the carpet.

I've never been one to talk too openly about Katie in public -- but here in my home, I've always felt safe, free to express my pride and my grief through little things, like refrigerator magnets and figurines and stuffed animals. 

So it was sad/jarring to have to let the outside world intrude on my relationship with my daughter -- to hide away any traces of her existence that might not only qualify as "clutter" but conjure up questions and visions of dark clouds hanging over this house.

It's not that I'm not proud of her, proud to be her mother. It's just that the world hasn't yet developed a comfort level in facing these kinds of things. And I wanted to sell my house. And I was going to have pack everything up anyway, sooner or later.

This was only a temporary measure, of course. I will bring out Katie's things again in the new place.

But it was sad to strip the place she never got to call home of all reminders of her brief existence.


  1. This has me in tears. Packing for a move is very hard to do, but packing up mementos of your daughter just sounds heartbreakingly hard. Even though it's temporary.

    I'm glad the sale is going through and that your move will be happening very soon. May unpacking be healing.

  2. Abiding with you Loribeth. I feel the heaviness and emotion in every word of this post. Hugs to you...

  3. I think the important (but difficult) thing for us is that once your house goes on the market, it's not yours any more, it's styled for the market. We had to face that when we were cleaning out my mother's house too - deciding what we would keep for putting it on the market. My sister got emotional about something, but the fact is that it wasn't Mum's house any more, it is now the new owners' house ... though it's not even for sale yet. It's easy to understand that intellectually - it's the emotional side that's tough.

    But that said, I can still understand that it was very hard for you to pack up her things, to style the house for sale. It's the first of the emotional wrenches you will face in leaving your home. Hugs.

  4. I think I could have put away some things, but there would still be one or two items out to make me feel better. I also think the idea that any personal items will detract from the sale is way overstated. There's a happy medium between overcrowded with crap and looking like a hotel, and that's where most people probably live. Realtors make me irritable with their outrageous demands and attempts to do the least amount of work possible to sell your house. (I may have some baggage in this area.)

    I'm sorry you were sad, and I think it will be a little harder when you leave because you'll feel like you're leaving some memories of Katie behind. But you're not, because they (and she) are always with you.

  5. Wow, so difficult! Thinking of you at this time of transition!

  6. (((HUGS))) The last line really got me. Take your time in grieving...

  7. When the practical and spiritual collide it is NOT always harmonious, that's for sure.

    I'm so moved at the loving and devotional ways that you honor your dear Katie, I have tears rolling down my face. I've no doubt you will set up new shrines when you are settled that are every bit as luminous, but that in no way nullifies what must be a heart jerking experience of tearing down the current ones.

  8. Transitions are tough. I can feel the emotion in your post. Acknowledging and understanding how you feel are important. No advice, just know I ache a little with you. So sorry.