Yesterday, I began... no... continued, a journey. A journey of grief. Of love. Of emotional see-sawing. Yesterday, 11 years, 5 months, and 10 days after she died (yeah, we count sometimes), Meghan's twin brother moved into her room.
His reasoning was practical. His room has only one window and has a northern exposure. There is very little natural light. His window is a casement window and he cannot place a fan in the window and we do not have central air, so his room is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter than the rest of the house. He wanted a change.
Her room has a southern exposure. It has two windows and has a lot of natural light as well as a nice view of our backyard. The double hung window allows for a window fan or even a window A/C unit. The newness of it is exciting to him. I had offered for years that he could always switch rooms if he wanted to, but it was not until recently, he asked to do it. I had time this weekend, and so it began.
I thought I was ready. I mean really. Meg's room has been unoccupied by Meg for over 11 years now. It's looked essentially the same for the past 10 years. The dresser that took her life still stood against the wall (now secured). Scrapbooking and jewelry making supplies filling many of the drawers and closet, neglected for years because I've been too busy with other endeavors. A basket of her favorite toys and stuffed animals still sat in the corner. Trinkets gifted to us and things she made sat on her dresser. The jammies she was wearing the day she died sat in the top drawer along with a scrapbook of their birthday, her baby book, and the photos from her funeral and wake. Pictures she drew or finger painted and photos of her hung on the walls. The little satin cross that said "sister" with the dried roses still on it from her casket still hung on the wall. It was still very much Meg's room, with a little bit of mommy's things taking up space. Yet it was not really a functional room. On occasion her brother would go in there and read or play on his tablet or phone, but other than very occasional times, her room was simply there. Holding the space for her memory, my grief.
So I walked in and began with the closet. Then I began to empty the dresser to prepare for the room switch and moving the furniture. As I piled up the things or put them in boxes, I began to cry. This was going to be harder than I thought. But why?
Because for the first and last time, Meg's room would be Meg's room, with Meg's things in it. As I gathered all her things and prepared to move everything out to bring her brother's things in, it occurred to me this was a milestone. The day I would no longer have Meg's room as a 'sanctuary'. The place I go on really rough days. The floor I lay on every year on December 18th, where she took her last breath. The place where "her" things were in "her" space. Now her room would become her brother's room. And although her things would still be in my possession, just in different rooms of the house, it would never be the same.
The last bits of my daughter's personal space were no longer hers and hers alone. I know that sounds bizarre, but if you are a bereaved parent, you get it. If you are not, now, maybe you get it too.
It was like saying good-bye all over again, but in a different way. And it hurts.
The dresser. That God-damn dresser. Murderer! As I removed the items in the drawers, I remembered what used to be in them. Her clothes. Her diapers. Her 'pretties' for her hair on the top... How she loved to open the drawers and throw things out all over the floor until she found what she wanted to wear. I wondered what the hell she was doing that morning, as I have a gazillion times before. What was she trying to get? How the hell did she tip it over? Why didn't we hear it? Why? Why did it happen? Why to her? Why to me? Why? Why? Why? God-dammit, WHY?!
*** deep breath ***
and I moved on. I know better than to dwell where there are no answers. I'll never know the answers to those questions. Only she knows. It doesn't stop me from asking now and then, though.
As I unattached the dresser from the wall, I had a little anxiety attack. A flashback of that God-awful morning. I opened the drawers. I ran my hand over the edge of the drawer that likely constricted her throat when she fell over it and the dresser fell on her. I wondered what she was thinking for those seconds she couldn't breathe before she lost consciousness. Was she scared? Did she see an angel? Did she think of me? I saw her face as I saw it when I ran in her room to my husband's screams... blue... lifeless... yet still beautiful.
I slammed the drawers back in, the top one slid back open as if in defiance. I got angry. I thought I had the anger out at the dresser the day she died. Apparently not. Grief is funny like that. I sat on the floor in front of it and cried some more. I really wanted to kick it over...
Another deep breath... I stood up. Ok, dresser that killed my daughter. You and I are going to do battle... Finally...
I slid the moving discs underneath the legs. I pushed it across her floor. Myself. It's freaking heavy! I once again looked up to the Heavens and asked her, "How the hell did you do this?! This thing is HEAVY!" I fought with it pushing and pulling and readjusting to push it across the hall and into her brother's room without scratching the wood floor. It probably took me a half hour and a lot of internal cursing and a few tears. Mind you it was also 95 degrees and humid in the house at the time. I didn't care. I was going to win THIS battle come hell or high water. I needed to do it myself. I didn't want help. This was between me and the dresser.
I did it. I got it where I wanted it. It was challenging, physically and emotionally. It doesn't look right in there. It doesn't belong in there. None of this is right. None of it. I was supposed to watch ALL my kids grow up and become amazing adults. ALL OF THEM. My heart hurts... It was exhausting emotionally, not physically. I didn't bargain for this today. Although I shouldn't be surprised. That's how grief works.
Later in the day, it took over an hour and several of us to take apart his bed and move it into her room and reassemble it. The fan went in the window. He was happy. He hugged me and thanked me. This morning, he said he really likes his new room. He has a new comforter. He wants to pick out an area rug and shades/curtains. He doesn't know his head sleeps in the same place his sister took her last breath. EXACTLY the same space. But I do. It's bittersweet.
Today I am continuing the journey. The bed is made up. I'm moving the smaller items, the clothes, the closet contents. I need to rearrange his room to be the "spare" room that holds his desk (too big to move and not enough wall space in his sister's room for it), his sister's dresser with her things which need to be placed back in the drawers, and the piles of stuff that were in the closet in her room and all the crafty items need to find a new home in his former room. Lots of vacuuming, dusting, rearranging, organizing.
Part of me feels sad that this final step in holding the space Meg once lived in for Meg's memory/spirit has transpired. Of course I knew someday it would, and I'm thrilled her twin is comfortable sharing her space. It's a beautiful thing, really. Whether he's aware of it or not.
I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to have that space be hers, mine, ours for the past 11+ years since her death. I know some people want to move from their home when their child dies, or others who have taken an ax to the furniture that fell on and killed their child, but that's not me. Although for a moment yesterday, I could have torn that dresser apart...
It's just another speed bump on the journey as a bereaved parent. Her step-dad, who never parented her when she was alive, told me Meggie's things are of course always hers and I'd always have them, just in a different place. Which is true. He also reminded me, Meghan would say "Ry Ry did it!" about "stealing" her room and moving her stuff. She did always love to blame her twin for everything, and she'd gleefully say "Ry Ry did it!" whenever something was amiss. I smiled through the tears. Yes, yes she would love to blame Ry Ry for it. *giggle* I can still hear her say it if I close my eyes. Little pointy finger and disheveled hair and all.
I miss her so damn much...
Secretly, I think she's thrilled. She finally got Ry Ry to come sleep in her room. She always preferred to sleep with him anyway...