There is a small white box in my closet. It held Iris’s ashes before we scattered then. I don’t need the box; it was only a delivery mechanism, a transportation method to her final resting place. I did not keep Nelle’s box. But I have been unable to throw away Iris’s box. It is one of the few things I have.
When we went to the Butterfly Release in June, we came home with a small burlap bag with a butterfly pin, two pink butterflies inside, and the year “2017” stamped on the front. I have other things that I have gathered “after” also: candles from All Souls Day. The program from the Walk to Remember. For the rest of our lives, every time we gather to honor them, we will be collecting things.
For my living children, I have “special boxes” – favorite art projects and handwriting samples and report cards. I decided that Nelle and Iris needed a special box too in which I could save everything from over the years. They will never have birthday parties, or soccer games, or school plays, but this is how we remember instead and the mementos deserve to be saved. So I bought a large box. I received a journal recently and now it has a purpose: every time we attend an event or receive something, to document the meaning. Maybe even include a photo from the event. I went back and wrote in the previous experiences, determined not to let the memories slip away.
The other day I wondered: How would I feel if I went into labor on Iris’s due date? Would that be difficult? Or would I feel that we have come “full circle” replacing a day of pain with a day of joy? To my disappointment, I don’t think that will be the case, though I certainly wished for it, ultimately deciding that I would accept the significance of a shared date as meaningful in a positive way.
The box is now in my closet. I placed the container for Iris’s ashes in it. Today is July 28th, a day that will forever be recognized only by me. If she had been born full term, this was my due date. She would be one year old.