Moving. What a broad subject. Not moving on, or moving up, or moving others with your words. Just moving. Packing up everything you own, everything your family owns, your pets, your possessions, packing it all into a truck, and moving. Shutting down and leaving the home that you have known for so long and going to a new start. We all do it a few times in our lives, some more than others, others only once or twice. Sometimes we move for work, or for a larger place, or for downsizing. But where I am now, my mental and emotional place in life, moving has different meanings. Moving becomes emotional.
Every day, every single day, I visit Andrew’s room. It might be for just a moment to touch something, smile, and leave. Or it might be for a few minutes to look at his belongings, do some remembering, and then get back to my day. But every single day I go into his room – I am with him for that moment. Sometimes when i am lost, I sit on his bed and ask him for advice. I think about what he would say to me, think about what his thoughts might be. I might just think about him, about his smile, about what his life could have been. It gives me great peace and comfort to have that place I can visit. His room. His stuff. His memories. It is such a large part of my moving ahead with my life.
Sometimes it is sad for me to go there, sadness beyond belief and something that no one can ever put into words. But those days are getting fewer and further apart as I learn to deal with this loss. But they are still there once in a while. The days that I go in there and smile and recall the good times, recall the blessing that I had with my son for twenty one years are getting more often. I look at his guitar and think about the joy and pride he had learning to play it. It still sits on his bed where he left it. I look at his high school yearbooks and read what his friends wrote to him, and I smile. I look at his team jackets and how honored he was to wear them and be part of the teams that he was on.
Then there are the things that only those who knew Andrew would appreciate. There is an arm rest from the high school auditorium. Why would someone want that? Who knows, but Andrew had it – and was proud that he had it. There are his pads of late passes and hall passes from high school. I don’t know, but I am sure his friends know why he had them. And his sneakers – for someone who never wore shoes, he had a lot of them.
When I go in there, I connect with him. Much of his clothes are still where he left them – although cleaned, folded and put away. Some of his books, some of what he collected, some of him, is still there. And I need that, I need to know that and see that to get me through each day and to keep moving my feet forward. I can not see that day in the future where I can box it up, store it away, pack up what is left of Andrew and move away. Maybe one day it will happen, but maybe it won’t.
But for others it is different. And I understand that. For others, the site of their children’s room, seeing their empty space, seeing the toys that lay collecting dust, the clothes that will never be worn again, the books that will never be read, is just too much. The searing pain of their loss is brought back to them every time they pass that doorway. Sometimes the door is kept shut, so they do not have to see inside the bedroom. Other families keep the door open, and bear the sight of the room. Their loss is tied to that place, tied to that house, that used to be a home. For those parents, a new beginning, a new place, a fresh start, is what they need. They need new surroundings not tied to the past. Simply put – a move.
They have to put their sons or daughters belongings away. They have to box up the memories, box up the clothes, the toys, the books, and prepare to move. They might sell the furniture, or donate it, or pass it along. But it does not go with them. It is too hard to keep it. They are downsizing, they are relocating, they are moving to a new place where the memories of raising their wonderful child do not exist.
One day they will open those boxes again and sort through what was their loved one. They might cry over a toy, a book, or a piece of clothes. But it is not an entire room of overwhelming memories. It is not the entire home where the spent so many loving years before that fateful terrible day. These tears might be of the happy times, the happy memories. These tears are the good ones that moved along with them.
Don’t be mistaken – when they moved they took their children with them. The memories, their love, all that was their child, all that they had, moved along with them, but they are moving. We never forget our children. No matter where we go, or where we stay, what we give away or what we choose to keep, our sons and daughters are always with us. But some of us have to move away and start over, while others chose to stay.
Why the difference? Why the irresistible driving force to stay put or move away? Just like all grief, just like we each handle our grief our own way – no one knows why, it just is.
This journal is written in honor of Emily, and in memory of Daniel, as a thank you for all of the parents that she has helped move ahead in their lives and all of the souls she has healed.