So, I am a saver. Some would call it being a “pack rat”. Or even worse, “a hoarder”. But that goes into a whole other category. But, I definitely save more than some people. It used to be worse with some things many years ago. It has gotten better. But I will say, it has returned a little bit with losing Emily and Michael. Yes, I save tons of drawings and such with Matthew and Ryan. However, with Emily and Michael, I only have so much. To remember them by.
With Emily, I remember saving everything. Receipts from the funeral clothes that we bought. Drafts of the program for her funeral. Anything that they gave me at the hospital. They presented us with a hand-knitted baby hat for Emily which was too big for her, but I still wanted to keep it and bring it home. I even kept the bath towel that I used the last time while she was still in my belly. I did the same thing with Michael. Sometimes I just go and even smell these towels. In hopes that I can catch their scent. Now I understand why others do that when someone they love has died. I even have the scissors that my husband cut Emily’s umbilical cord with on that day, February 8th after she was delivered. I also asked to keep any piece of material that she (and the same with Michael) laid on.
With Michael (and Emily), we received this box from the hospital with all kinds of things in it to remember our baby. When I received this box last year, I never thought that I would be bringing home another one a year later. But I am glad that I have them in order to remember our babies. There are blankets, measuring tapes, and their life certificates in there. I hold onto them because they are some of the only memories I have. For life, of them. While I was pregnant with Michael I had prayer cards given to me. Angel trinkets that I would carry in my pocket. I still have all of these. When we buried both of our babies, we put baby blankets (mine and the boys), pictures of us and them, drawings from our boys, letters my husband and I wrote, in their vaults. I have copies of our letters and pictures. And our boys got the same stuffed animals that we buried with Michael and call them “Michael’s bunny or lamb”. These are memories for our boys to hold onto as well.
When we confirmed girl and boy both times, we put some balloons in a box for our boys to open to “reveal” their sister and brother. We took pictures. These are our memories. Though few, I grab onto whatever I can. We even placed an obituary in our local paper to remember Emily. I would like to do one for Michael, I just haven’t had the courage to do one yet. It is hard to do it once. We planted dogwood trees in our backyard this past spring to remember Emily and Michael. Pink for Emily and white for Michael. My husband surprised me for my birthday with handprints of the boys with “Emily” written on one stone and “Michael” on the other for their trees. Was a wonderful gift.
Maybe having these keepsakes is our way of keeping them alive. That they were real, as much as sometimes you feel like their existence did not matter to others. It did to us, and still does. I will always remember our babies. Even more so, it is something tangible to hold onto. Since we cannot hold our babies any longer. Just as we do with anyone else that we love has died. Someday, I am sure that I will eliminate some things of theirs, as hard as that will be. Probably some receipts or something. But I believe that I will always have a box filled with their things to just go look at on a quiet afternoon. To pull that cover off. Smell their blankets that they laid on in the hospital. And to know that they were real. And these are real memories.