Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Aoife, in her little bird shirt I made her
There are many things that evoke memories, some of them by surprise. For me, catching a scent that reminds me of days past often catches me off guard, as do songs that I associate with particular time periods. Today I had a new re-memory. An awakening of a forgotten moment. A forgotten place.

All July, my dear husband has been slaving away on a new downstairs bathroom for us: gorgeous, beadboard wainscoting, a freecycled clawfoot tub, new (also free) pedastal sink, and tiny-tile floor. We had decided that we would move the white wicker changing table from the nursery down to this bathroom, as I have never changed a diaper upstairs since Aoife was born. Besides, I explained, it will make a lovely dry sink area when we don't have babies anymore.
This in itself was huge. There is a part of me that feels terrified to move anything from the nursery that was there when Charlotte was waiting in the wings, and this lovely wicker piece was one of them. That winter, Greg's parents had gone back to the store where we had picked out the crib and bought this for me in secret. They'd had it delivered at the crack of dawn so that, when I awoke the next morning to admire the crib, I found it there, nestled in the corner, as I'd imagined it. I was so delighted with it. It is a fond memory.

But the truth is, as attached and slightly paranoid as I feel about keeping the nursery the same, I really like the changing table, and I liked the idea of having it downstairs where I could actually use it. It's a pretty piece of furniture, which would look pretty in our new room. So I tried not to think about it, and tried not to feel like I was dismantling all that was left of our daughter's could-have-been bedroom, and we went for it. Today, it moved downstairs.

As it went, again, I tried not to see it in the hallway, tried not to think of it as part of her layette that had arrived in winter of '03. I went into the nursery, and re-arranged what was left, moving the rocking chair to fill the space that had once held the changing table, placing the tiny book case catty-corner across the other side, and putting the laundry hamper (which serves as a tiny table) in between the two. Then, as a final touch, I thought: why not move the lamp, which is on top of the wardrobe, on top of the laundry hamper? Then it will be next to the chair. And I did, thinking nothing of it.

Tonight, after bath, I went with Aoife down to her "nursery room" (as she calls it). I turned on the light to put on her jammies and it happened: instantaneous memory; jogged by the way that the light shone differently from that side of the room.

When I had first set up this room, before the crib, or even the changing table arrived, I had placed the lamp in that very spot, for only a few days. It was then that I sat on the floor, sifting through my baby-shower gifts, and Greg tried on the Baby Bjorn and put a dolly in it, and we looked at the clothes and wrote things in the little baby book for her and smiled to ourselves. We thought we had it all. The next weekend we would buy the crib, and we would be all ready. Or so we thought.

I laughed to myself, a little sarcastically, as I looked back on the old me. Truly, I was jealous of her. Also, I felt sad for her. And I appreciated that unexpected memory, for whatever it brought me.

Tomorrow I am off to the cottage. I'm in charge of the family party for 200 + people on Saturday, so it's possible you won't hear from me for a few days... but you never know.


Sara said...

It is amazing how a small detail can trigger an intense memory. I experienced that recently with the smell of hospital soap. It brought me right back to the NICU, the scrubbing and the the worry and disorientation.

I, too, look back on the old me. For me, it is pictures from my baby shower that get me. Even before Henry died when he was in the hospital for so long, I would look at those pictures (they were in the same album as the few pictures I had actually printed of him), and I would ask, "Who is this happy, innocent, ebullient person? I want to be her." And I had been but it seemed so long ago and like a different person.

Meg said...

Carol, I hope you have a wonderful time on your vacation. I'm glad you got to have that little unexpected memory. Your writing is such a gift. I look forward to your next post!

njt said...

Hi Carol,
Am having a hard Mommy night, as two year olds can do to you....Feeling sad for myself.

Went searching to your blog to distract and first saw a mini me of Carol. Aoife is looking just like her Momma. Then I read your post and got tears. Then felt like an ass. And then wanted to reach out and hug you as you continue to honor your Charlotte each day. You are a truly amazing woman.

Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to have a very CHEEKY 2 year old and a darling baby.

Love ya - Rika