It’s amazing how much stuff a single cardboard box can hold. Memories and odd shoes and crumpled, forgotten receipts still in pockets, photos and pennies, familiar but far away scents.
By the time I was ripping the parcel tape from the third box like a plaster off a grazed knee it dawned on me that Beans remembers none of this, our previous life thrown into boxes and locked away since a time that she will never remember. Her home isn’t this place where I’m filling cupboards and windowsills with trinkets and hanging pictures on walls. There’s only one home she knows and that’s the place that we are soon to leave.
Whereas my home, my life, spills from the boxes and bounces across the newly laid floor in the newly painted rooms of somewhere I don’t know either.
Each box reminds me off a million things all at once. Memories caught up in stuff and lost to the past – Christmas pyjamas (aged 6 months), wedding photographs, the tiny hat that was slipped over Beans tiny new head minutes after she was born, scan photos, long forgotten toys missing all of their integral bits. There’s happy and sad and despair and love jumping out as soon as the lid is lifted.
What have I lost and what did I never realise that I had?
No matter how hard I try the feeling that I have caused this, the gaping hole of loss and waste and grief threatening to swallow me whole because we are here now. But like leaked oil painting a rainbow in a puddle happiness floats to the top and tells me that all that I have been through has brought us to an okay place.
We unpack until we have enough torn cardboard that it blocks the light from streaming into the room and I remember. The one bag I went on and on and on about when everything was being packed. The one bag I wanted to keep above everything else.
It has the sleep suit that we dressed Beans in, the one that my mum having held a cool glass of water to my lips as I panted through contractions rushed out to buy when we discovered that the tiny baby sized everything that we had stocked up on simply swamped this new person.
It’s the one that I really remember her wearing and I don’t remember much else from that day. It’s the one that she is wearing in my favourite tiny baby photo taken of her.
It’s the one I want to keep.
Two sides of me battle to be heard while I try to keep a calm exterior, riffling back through things I have already been through twice.
It’s not here.
It has to be here. I need it. I need to have something tangible from then.
You have Beans. That’s what you have, everything else is superficial.
I need it. It has to be here. I was going to keep it, maybe let Beans dress a doll in it, tuck it away in the back of a drawer forever just to have it.
It’s gone. You have the photo and the memory and the baby.
It has gone, the sleep suit, our old life, some of the darkness. Gone.
I try to imagine how it will feel to lay underneath the duvet underneath the ceiling in this new house. The house that has caused so much stress and so many tears and that will bring us back together as a family and a place to make happy, home.
I want this to work, I want to cope and to adjust and to settle and to live. I want to find that tiny sleep suit and I want not to feel guilt and grief, to let go and to hold on.