In my hall closet there is a box hidden beneath bath towels and bed sheets. Inside the box are scraps of memories of a child I never had the chance to know. A lock of hair, some yellowed snapshots and the black and white ink print of a foot no larger than my thumb. There was a time when I needed to open the box daily to reassure myself that the baby existed, if only for a brief moment in my arms.
I keep the box on a high shelf crowded between old baby clothes my children have long since outgrown and the tattered, smudged drawings from their early kindergarten days. I seldom think about the box until it’s time to reorganize the close to make room for the clutter of new memories. My hand brushes across the worn flaps and I feel the need to open it again, despite the years that separate me from that part of my past. It has been stored in the closet for two decades, yet every time I see it, I am surprised by its presence and what it once meant to me—the hopes and dreams of a young mother carrying twins. I lift the lid slowly and touch the silky wisp of blonde hair inside. Folded neatly underneath the sympathy cards and letters is a small, cotton blanket. My hand automatically smooths the satin edge and slowly I bring it to my cheek, remembering the softness of the little boy it once held.
There was a time when I believed the box was all that I had left of Jason, until one morning when I looked into his twin sister’s eyes and saw his smile. She had just taken her first step around the coffee table and rewarded me with her toothless grin. I cried then for the miracle of having such a special baby, and for the twin boy I’d never see take his first step, play catch with his father, splash in the surf, star in a school play, walk across the stage for his high school diploma or escort his new bride down a church aisle. Although I missed him and often wondered what it would have been like to raise twins, I realized early on how blessed I was to have his twin sister, who brings so much joy into my life.
When I was younger, it was very painful to open Jason’s box. It forced me to face a loss I never understood. Today, it represents more than that; it reminds me of the courage it took to work through the loss—something I never could have accomplished without the love of my family and the power of faith. The box became a part of the healing process in my grief.
Every time I sifted through its contents, I became stronger.
I’ll never forget Jason or the softness of his skin when I cradled him in my arms. Although our time together was brief, he taught me some valuable lessons. Our children are a blessing, and the special moments we share with them are the little miracles in our lives that make up the memories we carry in our hearts when we grow old.
This piece originally appeared on Menopausal Mother
Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of the humor book, Who Stole My Spandex? and the voice behind the popular midlife blog, Menopausal Mother. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BlogHer, The Mid, BLUNTmoms, In The Powder Room, and Midlife Boulevard, among others. Marcia lives in sunny south Florida with her husband and four children. Send her a jar of Nutella and she’ll be your best friend. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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