Thursday, April 3, 2008

Early Morning Panic

As our family has grown, Charlotte's space in our house has diminished. This was not really on purpose, but it had to happen. When she was born, and died, she had a whole room to herself. It was full of diapers that were hers, clothes that were hers, furniture that was hers, etc. Everything baby that we owned, belonged solely to her.
When Liam was born, most of me was delighted to share Charlotte's things with him. I felt slightly melancholy about converting the nursery, which had been her shrine, into the place where his things would be (which basically entailed him moving in and taking over all the things that had been destined for her). This did work out for me, I was happy with this arrangement. It seemed right to me.
But I did take a little doll cradle, one that Greg had refinished as a boy, and fill it up with the things that were just Charlotte's. Some special books. The outfit I had brought with me to the hospital. A knit blanket that was also with us in the hospital. Her urn of ashes. The blanket she had around her. Her photo album. And a little, painted memory box, which holds all of our hospital mementos: bracelets, crib cards, measuring tape, as well as other assorted cards and memorabilia. The most important thing to me in that box is a tiny, little ziploc bag with a lock of her dark hair inside.
Charlotte had beautiful, thick newborn hair. It was thinner and fluffy on the sides, but across the top and around the whorl at the back of her head it was thick and beautiful and soft. It was very dark. She had more hair than the other kids. It was very bittersweet to cut that lock, I can remember it so clearly, taking the tiny scissors and cutting a tiny little piece of it, not wanting to hack apart her lovely hair, but wanting to have that piece of her forever.

And that is it, really, it's her. It really is her. The only piece of the actual Charlotte Amelia that I grew that still remains.

So this morning, Aoife is rifling through the box ( I like to let the kids feel free to access her things, so that they will feel part of her, too) and I see the hair is gone.

I look harder. In all the envelopes. I take the whole cradle apart, sifting through each piece of clothing. Nothing. I burst into hysterical tears. This is my baby. Liam is crying, now, holding me, saying, "What would make you happy?"
"I have to find that hair," I cry, "It's all I have left of Charlotte, I have to find it".
I start to search frantically, imagining that one time, up on the bed, the little bag has camoflauged itself against the duvet, slipped off and under the bed amongst the dust. And as my eyes scan under the bed, I see the firebox.
I just got it on freecycle. It has extra copies of pictures, negatives, and other Charlotte-related things. I open it. The hair is there. I had forgotten I even had the firebox, and I had no recollection of adding the hair.
But it does make sense, doesn't it, that I would put the only actual relic of my daughter in the place where nothing can get it?
I breathed such a deep, heartfelt sigh of relief.


stephanie said...

I can't even imagine how much you must treasure that lock of hair. I felt a dagger go through my heart while reading your blog and thinking that it was gone. I was so glad to read on and know that it was safe. What a relief you must have felt....

Jen said...

Tears upon reading this, and then relief too. I'm so glad you found Charlotte's lock of hair.

hippeemommy said...

First of all, I am knew to your blog and absolutely love every second of reading it. You share such deep heartfelt memories and it is an honor to have the chance to share them. Secondly, reading this post my heart started to beat like crazy. I thought you had lost the hair and I was about ready to cry for you. I am so so happy you found it. You writing is so special. Keep it up! :)

Debstmomy said...

Hello there. I just stumbled onto your blog. We are in the same sisterhood, btw. But perhaps more in common. Check out my blog, the grief blog. LMK what you think. Perhaps we can connect.
Your Charlotte is beautiful! & I loved your post on spirituality, it seemed to describe me as well. The picture warmed my heart...I would love a full family picture....someday.