I started writing this post several times over the last couple of months, but it seemed too strange, even for me. How to express this…comfort kept eluding me. I took a picture of this comfort, cropped it down, saved it, thinking it would help me settle my thoughts. But then I lost the pic somewhere in my stellar lack of computer skills. Ok, cosmos, thought I. Not time to write this yet.
And then I read a beautiful piece, written by a woman who lost her son, shared by another woman who’d lost her son, in part about the comforts we take that many won’t understand without having experienced the loss of a child. Cosmos, I get you.
See? I told you it was strange. What the heck is it, right? I actually have no idea other than Chris did it years ago, when he and a friend were doing constant chemical experiments in our basement. He’d been cleaning up and, somehow, this got on the pedestal of the sink in his bathroom. He tried to get it off. I tried to get it off. It. Would. Not. Come. Off. It was annoying, then. Now, it comforts me in that uncanny way I’m having a hard time understanding.
I have pictures, writings, clothes, his backpack, wallet, school books. So many tangible things he touched, he created. But I see this mysterious smear of whatever chemical they’d been playing with whenever I go into his bathroom, and it makes me smile. It says, “I was here!” It comes with a specific memory of a time he was really happy. What used to annoy me now brings me comfort, because that whole incident would have been forgotten had I been able to clean it away.
It’s a strange thing to take comfort in, when I have so many other things at my disposal. My kids teased me, years ago, because I wouldn’t clean my grandson’s baby handprint from the sliding glass door. For months, it stayed there. It made me happy to see it. An automatic welling of adoration for that little pipsqueak hit me every time I spotted it. And now it’s the same with that smear on the sink pedestal.
And it’s not just the smear. It’s the sticker in Gracie’s room, the one she put on the wall when she wasn’t supposed to. It’s the circular marks on the hardwood floor in Scott’s room, from the coins that had been on the floor when he spilled something and never cleaned it up. It’s the wedding gown Jamie left here after she and Josh got married, still hanging in the closet. Annoyances turned into comfort. Proof that there was a time when simple, silly things like this actually mattered enough to vex me.