Sunday, March 2, 2014

Like Mice

The thought haunted from time to time. Grimly shaking its chains. Knowing full well of my strengths - wheelchairs, boots, and other binding apparatuses - but capturing my grave weakness in another area.

At first fleeting, "twice is too much." As time ticked this single phrase became an echo. But then, the memories, colors, her, everything - flashing. Vibrantly soft, yet searing. My mind was ablaze. She, in polka dot pink and denim blue - innocent and beautiful as ever. The echo was no longer. But now a wave of reverberation. Reflecting through every cell in my body. "Twice is too much." 

Flashes from the first gain momentum. They mix with the impending days ahead. Try as I might, I hold her but can't shake the thought. Stitch by stitch, item by item. Holding on, letting go. Often times when I look to the horizontal and vertical - to the drawers and shelves - I can feel my chest tighten, my back teeth clench. Convincing myself,
"Relax, breathe. It will all be okay." 

I was confused, because I'm not sentimental about these sorts of things. So after all these years, I could never quite put my finger on exactly what it was about her little shirts, skirts, dresses, and pants that drove me.  Writing is much like dissecting my brain. I realized in putting this post together - it had nothing to do with the clothes, and everything to do with the bond Aviana and I forever had over two things: clothes and books, books and clothes.

When all was lost from beginning to end, we always had the two. The two always brought us together. Impossibly close. When I couldn't bond with her in the beginning, we found each other in Skelly the Skeleton Girl and jean dresses. After we found each other, but lost ourselves once again (in many respects) due to the accident, those stories and outfits became even more important. When there was almost nothing I could do or buy for her because of the accident - I could once again rely on the two. They forever brought us together when all else was lost. They created another world for us. A world which was right, when so much was wrong. 

So it makes perfect sense how I was able to clear the house of almost all other things, except our favorite books, and of course her clothes. 

As time went on I was given the gift of complete concentration on Aviana. The best part was an overwhelming sense of calm in order to be fully present with Aviana for every moment of her last days. As part of this, I was able to let all other aspects which were previously pulling - fall away. What I was given was beyond me. It was much like an out of body experience. I thanked God constantly (and still do) for allowing me to feel everything, but not let it take me over and under. 

I learned a long time ago that I haven't a clue how I will react until I'm actually faced with a difficult decision. This was proven once again while Aviana was in the very last stages of her life.

Time had gone past what we'd been told to expect. Often times while Aviana was asleep, we tried to keep ourselves (mostly our minds) occupied. One night, we decided the time was right. Our thought process was simple - it would be easier on our hearts to pull her clothes together while she was alive, rather than after she passed. 

She was asleep in the farthest area from her room. So like mice, we gathered and lovingly folded every last piece of her clothing. Not to put too much time and attention on any one single item. And for God's sake...making sure not to picture her in anything, which was near impossible. This undertaking required a little speed, a light mood, but especially quiet so as not to wake Aviana. The last thing we wanted was for her to hear one peep out of us.

We did our best to keep our thoughts a world away from exactly what we were doing, but how? The most difficult part came when the closet was stark white and empty - just as it began...7 short years prior. It felt like the end of an era.

That's when the tears came...

And just kept on coming sporadically as we bagged all of those adorable little pieces up and finally placed them in the back of Dave's car for a donation to Goodwill set for a later date.

Not too long after Aviana died, we drove all of her clothes to our local drop off point and gave them away. While it was a little sad when we let them go - it actually felt really good.

In all reality, the second time around wasn't as hard as the first. This time, we let those clothes go with a peace in knowing - something we didn't have the first time.


  1. So beautiful, Jen, as always.

    1. Thank you ❤

      I still have the Rainey post in my back pocket, partially written...

      I realize it's been hard for me to revisit, because it has been hard for me to see her go through and help her through. She's been doing much better lately, so maybe soon : )

  2. You're always in my thoughts, beautifully written

    1. Thank you very much...on both accounts : )

  3. Jen, How hard that must have been for you and Dave. Yet, you put such simple things as clothes and books into a whole different light, a strong light of bonding between you and Aviana. You two are very special people , that were blessed with a child you shared with so many and continue to do so.
    I know your plans for Avianas room will be amazing as both of you are, but especially because of all the love that one little girl taught so many.
    cindy in nc

    1. Hi Cindy ~

      I agree, a very special child indeed : ) : )

      I am excited about her room. I hope we start sometime in the near future. I just talked to our neighbor. She is planning for Baby #2 and we were hoping she would want all of Aviana's furniture, etc. Her bed is one that was a crib and toddler bed before. My neighbor does, so hopefully when we have some time and a burst of energy...we'll move.

      Love to you always!!


  4. Those damn clothes. Oh how I cried over clothes. I still have clothes from my grandpa when he died that I can't look at, they are in my linen closet. I like to say my grandpa is waiting to come out of the closet :) He had a dry sense of humor, he would have loved my joke.

    I have a handful of Trina's clothes in a box in my garage. They're there but I can't look at them but just knowing they are there is enough.

    Clothes and shoes.

    Something that can make us so happy (especially if they are stripes) and yet bring so much hurt.

    That's just the way the cookie crumbles.

    1. Yep...those clothes.

      The joke about your grandpa made me laugh! I could actually hear you say it.

      I like the way you put it - knowing they are there is enough. The only clothes and shoes we kept of Aviana's were the ones her foster family handed her over to us in. Her little red, white, and blue dress and those adorable white shoes. Makes me cry right now just thinking about it, and them. Knowing they are there is enough...yes.

      You are so right - they can make us so happy and bring so much hurt.

      You are the best...

  5. Oh my, one of the hardest things to do. Some lucky girl out there has some beautiful clothes!! I remember doing my dads clothes and taking one of his favorite shirts and I still have it tucked away in my drawer 7 years later!! Every once in a while I take it out and hug it and it makes me feel like I am with him.

    1. Hi Mindy!

      I love hearing the story of your dad's favorite shirt. So beautiful. What a gift we have in carrying some pieces along with us, to remember, to love, to bring us back - especially when we need it!

      I agree, some lucky girl. I have to say, live and learn. The first time around, I gave all of Aviana's clothes to one of my friends. I thought it would be great if her daughter could grow into them. I had no idea what a dagger to the heart that would be. Seeing her child in perfect working order and picturing Aviana as she used to be, in those very same clothes was murder. Every single outfit. I thought I just needed time with it, but finally, couldn't take it anymore and had to say something. We both felt really bad, but how could we have known? We all learn through grief. There is no handbook. My friend made sure to never have her kids in those clothes around me again. So very sweet.

      This time, as much as I wanted to give those clothes to our neighbor's little was off to Goodwill we went : )

      I hope you have a nice day Mindy!

  6. I can't imagine what inner strength it took to do that. You and Dave are what a loving couple should be, facing life together and doing the impossible.

  7. So this is something that I hadn't thought about. But wow. Such a hard thing to do. Ahhhhhh so hard. Oh Jen, you and Dave are just so amazing. You handle everything so beautifully and thoughtfully. Her clothes. Her sweet, precious little clothes. ((( Jen )))

    1. Thank you Trina. Yes...those sweet, precious little clothes...

  8. Hi Jen, I don't think I could handle seeing another child in the clothes either. I remember when I had to put my 16 year old dog to sleep and I gave my neighbor his leash. Every time I saw her walking him I would cry!! I walked my dog on the leash for 16 years!! I remember reading your blog when Kama was sick and at the time my dog was getting old and getting dementia. I felt your pain. He had no quality of life left. He slept all day and didn't want to go for walks anymore and was peeing in the house. Then when he didn't know his favorite person which was me I made the hardest decision in my life and had to put him to sleep.. I was wondering how Rainey handled the passing of Aviana?

    1. Oh Mindy...I'm so sorry! It's kind of like ripping your heart out and serving it up on a platter with every sight? And then saying, 'oh's it going?" Ha Ha, but not ; )

      My heart broke while reading your every word. I am so very sorry for the loss of your sweet, sweet pup. Gosh, that decision...isn't it the worst! Wondering is this the exact right time? But knowing they are at peace is something so beautiful. But then, the vacancy of such a life! I think what you described was one of the most telling things - when Kama peed in our bed - that was it. You know? Because you know how they feel about that. I believe you and I both made the exact right decision. Setting them free. Giving them their dignity. My love to you ❤

      The Rainey question is one post I have been holding for a long time because it has been hard for me to talk about. But she is doing much better lately, so maybe soon. The short of it is - Aviana was a one dog kiddo (Kama), but that sure didn't mean Rainey didn't love Aviana! Rainey's gone through some pretty serious grieving, and I have a feeling it isn't over. She may be on an upswing? It has been really hard to see her grieve and walk her through it. Poor thing. We have felt awful for her. It's nice to see her peppy self again : ) Thank you for asking!