It's Not Just Stuff
“When you lose stuff, you have to remember it’s just stuff.” I don’t want to say it, but I know in some way, shape or form... it's true. But, the truth still hurts. Seeing the stuff you have lost to ruin or even knowing that you no longer get to put it to use like you once did; is sad. There’s no doubt about it. Especially when the stuff reminds you of both a traumatic and emotionally liberating moment in your life.
This summer we’ve had an unprecedented amount of rain. One storm in particular gave us nine inches and when you live around hills and mountains, it doesn’t make for a lazy rainy day. The way our house was built, we collect tons of rain water that becomes saturated in the earth; seeping into the cement floor of our basement. As renters, we weren’t aware of the natural disasters that rain water brings to that area. Nor did we have a shop vac. Let me just say, we got our first taste of being homeowners (which may deter us from buying said house that we love).
When I went downstairs to do laundry the next day after the landlord came to sweep out the water, I was horrified at the mold that immediately grew in just a couple of days. He had swept out the water, but didn’t vacuum the pool around the small retaining wall he built after the last big rain. Brian was at work and I couldn’t do anything downstairs with Vienna. So it sat there until it seeped into the ground and did a number on our belongings. When I saw that her infant car seat and her changing basket had grown mold, I felt like everything drained out of me in that moment. It felt even worse when we set aside that Sunday to comb through the whole basement and find more tangible items that hold precious memories we had to throw away.
I knew she wasn’t going to use it again, nor use it for another child that we weren’t going to have. I kept saying ‘I could’ve donated it' or 'I could've passed it down,' 'I could’ve sold it on Facebook Marketplace' etc... but it didn’t matter, it was really the loss of the infant I once had that is now a ten month old. A growing, happy, healthy, strong and smart ten month old. A ten month old that didn't fit in the swing or table chair that once held her little smiling face and now was being taken away by a garbage truck.
I know that time is a thief, no matter how many children one has, there will always be a time when their last firsts will come. Those words echo in my mind daily. I have to remind myself constantly when I feel the inadequacy of choosing not to put my heart and body through the trauma of having another baby.
I didn't lose a child, so I feel as if sometimes people don't understand how I mourn the loss of not having another. How I mourn her growing before my very eyes. How I mourn the loss of the things that kept her safe and comfortable when she entered this world after I kept her safe and comfortable inside me.
I tire of hearing, "Next time could be different', or 'you have to give her a sibling.' Sometimes it's easier not to explain the whole ordeal but I haven't figured out the words to stop the conversation yet.
One thing I’m working on, is letting go. Not forgetting an event, but accepting its purpose in the timeframe of my life. The trauma of Vienna’s birth, my pregnancy and hospital trauma afterwards is a constant weight on my chest. A weight that’s made heavier by special moments like the upcoming celebration of her first trip around the sun. Her first birthday marks a huge milestone for not just her but for me. Being that she was born on my birthday, one would think I would be excited for the day to come, but I dread the anxiety and sadness that reminds me of the past.
Her stuff being hauled away by sanitation marks an end of that era. I know there will be a time where I need to let go
of her clothes too. That era was a time of smiles and tears, of nervousness and despair, of excitement and joy and all the memories that go
with it. Memories of propping her bottle when she was in her swing when I needed to clean or diy for my own mental health. Memories of her sitting in her chair on the table while I painted our new rental home when she was only three months old. Memories of crying to Brian while changing her in her basket afraid that I wouldn’t be there for her because of the heart issues that had laid dormant during pregnancy.
But all these feelings and emotions can exist with the happiness. They can’t be thrown away with the garbage. The reminders linger in my heart and mind and the pieces that were sitting in my driveway covered in mold served their purpose. The most important purpose…to take care of my baby when she needed it.
Loss is still loss no matter which way you cut it. When you hear someone lament over a loss that does not make sense to you, try and look at it a little deeper before you judge them. They may only need someone to listen.
I won’t forget those things that I no longer have. I can be grateful for them and remind myself that they sparked joy with a purpose. Without them, I can make room for the new things that will bring my little girl joy. I hope you are learning to let go and make room in your hearts and homes as well.