Friday, February 10, 2006

The smell of sorrow

I just went through Thomas' things. I mean the things he used - the few physical remnants we have from our short, precious time together.

I'm trying to clean up the spare bedroom - the one that ended up turning into a storage room shortly before Thomas was born, and got more cluttered after he died when some of his furniture was hastily pushed into the mess as well.

I knew the little while lace package that the kind nurse brought to me, just a few minutes after the last time I saw and held Thomas, was in that room. It was tucked away in the drawer of his dresser, now empty but for a few things I couldn't bear to take down to the basement when we took down the nursery.

My heart was pounding as I sat down to open the little fabric pouch before going through his things one more time. It's been months, possibly close to 10, since I last peeked into it.

Inside I found the impossibly tiny blue onesie they dressed him in after he died. We'd brought our own clothes, but in our shock and stupor, the only things we thought to give them to put on him were the bonnet and sweater my mom knitted for him. It was part of his going home outfit. We ended up burying him in it.

The nurses thoughtfully bought him the onsie, a tiny handmade mint green hat and a blue dinosaur receiving blanket. All of them were there, just as I'd left them. I'd also tucked in the yellow receiving blanket we had for him (they wrapped him in it when they brought him to my room after he'd died) and the booties that matched the outfit my Mom knitted.

I brought each piece up to my face and drank in the smell, hoping against hope that some part of his scent would still, after 11 months, be clinging to the fabric. Everything just smelled like wood - like the inside of the brand new dresser they've been stored in all this time.

I took out his little hospital ID band, the measuring tape that recorded his almost 22 inches, the crib card with his name on it, his hospital card and, finally, the locks of hair they snipped for us.

I put one finger into the tiny bag and felt the feathery softness of his sandy brown hair. It was soft as a whisper from heaven. I stared at it. I stared and stared, holding it up to the light to try to catch the different hues in the precious few strands.

It's so hard to believe it's all I have left of him. It shocks me still - to my very soul.

I smelled the little bag of hair, but the very faint scent of something - the hospital? Thomas?? - turned my stomach. I can remember the smells of sorrow - the hospital, the freshly painted nursery, the new wood of the dresser and crib - and they give me no comfort. None.

So I put it all back. I took the time to hold the onesie against my heart - as though he was in it and could feel my heart beating against his own as I hugged him - and then put it all away.

I have no idea why I looked today. But maybe it was time. Maybe it's better to have done it now, before Thomas' first birthday. It would have been too big and too scary to try to do it then.

It's just that now I feel so empty. It's like he just died all over again. The last time I looked at his things they gave me comfort, but today they've left me cold and I don't know why.

I hate this. Have I mentioned how much I fucking hate every single bit of this?


SaraBJ said...


My heart just aches for you. I do hope that you are able to hang onto whoever and whatever you need to while you are going through what I am sure must be an incredibly painful time.

Be kind to yourself and lean on others.

mscooter said...

I hate it for you too, my dear friend.

Trust in us, lean on us, cry with us, share with us... and we'll get through it. Together.


deadbabymama said...

Oh sweetie I'm sorry.

Sherry said...

God ... I sat here and nodded in agreement with everything you wrote, knowing how I felt when I looked in Ryan's box yesterday, so I can only imagine how you feel.

Just as the others have said, be kind to yourself and lean on others for comfort.

I wish I had a way to make it all better ... (((HUGS)))

the ockers said...

Oh Kristin, you are such a brave woman. After my son died, I can home and stripped the house of all the things which reminded me of that pregnancy. Something I regret every now and then. BUt I thought at the time I couldn't handle the heartache of looking at my sad little treasures again and again. I don't have any photos, bits of hair, footprints or clothing. In truth, all I have is the hospital documents, a birth&death certificate and a small box of ashes that I've never picked up from Mum's house. They're over there because I asked her to make all the arrangements for me and I didn't go or participate at all. It's a pity now that I was so hard line back then. but I was full of grief and felt that turning my back on what had happened was going to help me through it. not!
YOu're lucky you have some of Thomas's hair. That's a beautiful thing to keep always.
((hugs)), xClare

kate said...


I am sorry....i hate it so much too. I hate that it keeps happening to other people. It is often just too too much to process...