Lauren did it.
On Saturday morning she said "where do you want to start?"
I replied "with the easiest room"
To which she responded "nope, we're doing the hardest room first"
And so it began...we sorted, we trashed, we organized (or I should say she organized). My main job was to go through every pile and either trash or keep and tell her what it was and if it was critical or not. I tell you what...we are going to have one kick-*@! yard sale once the weather cools down a bit. It is incredible how much nicer it is to walk through my house...to walk into my bedroom and only see a bed, bedside tables, and lamps...no bills, no mail, insurance claims, no kid toys, nothing but a calm serene space. When we tackled my closet...she plainly said "mail should never come into your closet, period!" She was good with me, kept me going, was firm when she needed to be, and understanding as well.
It was an incredibly emotional experience on many levels. There was the utter shame and disgust that I had allowed us to live amidst these piles and clutter for so long. She kept telling me it wasn't that bad, I'm sure she's seen worse, but coming from what I know her house looks like...I was embarassed. I also had many moments of sadness as each pile I went through...there would be a photo or a momento, a tiny blood pressure cuff, a card with handprints or footprints... all reminding me of where the girls started off in life and how far they've come...and of course, that Zoe isn't here.
I had a make-shift keepsake box for each of the girls...I have things that I can't bear to part with that were Zoe's. We had a cart in our room with all of her medical supplies (nasal canulas, oxygen tubing, tape, extra g-tubes, etc.) I had not been able to touch it since she died. We don't need these things, some of the items were things that had been sent incorrectly that I never got around to returning and yet I could not even throw those items, that Zoe never used or even needed to use...I couldn't throw them away. These items, these things, they all represented her and kept her presence in my life where I could see something in every corner to remind me of her. I went through the hundreds of sympathy cards we received after she died and made note of people I still need to thank or write to or call. I found the mother's day and father's day cards that were made for us in the hospital, each containing her handprint and footprint...the only cards she'll ever give us. I found the mirror that was in her crib at the hospital...the one that she stared at endlessly. I found the Christmas stockings the hospital made when they were just four days old, each with a photo and an attempt to make these 1 pound babies look like there was hope, when we didn't know if there was. I saw the polaroid photos that were taken before Zoe came home. I left a camera at her bedside so that we could get as many pictures as possible of the people who cared for her, especially the night nurses, many of whom I never met in person since I was there during the day. There was such joy in these pictures, such hope, she had gotten through the worst part and was coming home. When I watch the few movies I have, I just hear the innocence and happiness in our voices when we were with her...we had no idea we only had four months left with her.
There were a few things I just kept, just like they were...like her bouncy seat, it still sits in my room, it hasn't moved, no one sits in it...but I can't let anyone move it. I just can't. I remember how angry I was when, on my birthday, someone moved her highchair into the garage to make more room for people in the family room. I remember walking into the family room and stopping in my tracks when I noticed there were only two high chairs...my first sudden reminder that I have only two left. It's kind of the same for the bouncy chair...Lily and Avery never cared for this particular chair all that much, but Zoe sat in it a lot before she could sit with just a boppy for support. She spent quite a bit of time in that chair...she was the last one to sit in it and I just can't move it.
Lauren did something that helped me, she could see that I needed Zoe's things out, not just stashed in a box in a closet; and so she took a basket and collected a few items and a photo that were particularly meaningful and made kind of a display basket for me, which I now treasure. I can't thank her enough, I don't know how I will ever repay her kindness, her patience, and her compassion. And if anyone lives in the Atlanta area and wants a super organizer to help you...let me know and I'll hook you up...but be warned, be prepared to WORK! This is not something she does for people on her own, you do the work, she helps you organize it and gives you tools for keeping it from becoming that way again.
While we were busy purging my paperwork...the girls were playing with their newest friend Lola. Lola is 15 months old and so, so cute! She looks like she could be related to Avery and Lily with her dark hair and dark eyes. The girls were so cute together, Lily kept following Lola around, and would get up real close to her and look at her and look at us and smile, you could tell she wanted to just hug Lola so tight, it was precious. At one point I saw them all together in the playroom and for a brief flash, I thought "this is what it was supposed to be like in our playroom...three little girls running around together". It was kind of nice in a way to get a glimpse of what I thought life would have looked like with Avery, Lily, and Zoe playing together...but also made me miss Zoe even more, you see we should have had FOUR little girls running around together that day. Our wonderful husbands took excellent care of our girls and everyone seemed completely worn out by day's end. All in all, it was a very productive weekend...now I'm left with Richard's office, the laundry room, and my 40 item to-do list!!!
Bath time for the girls. I'm not sure Lola liked having two extra bodies in the tub!
Dinner time - Lola introduced the girls to the wonders of turkey dogs! They were a huge hit