Friday, October 18, 2013

Today I did the laundry.

Since Wyatt died I could not bring myself to walk into the laundry room and throw a load of clothes into the washer. Or grab a basket of clean clothes and begin to fold them.

"Really? She hasn't done the laundry in weeks?" - you're probably thinking to yourself.

It's something simple, right? But I will confess; I haven't done laundry in the weeks since Wyatt died. I have not folded the clean clothes sitting in the square laundry baskets that rest in the laundry room. I avoided reaching into the baskets that hold the clothes that need to be washed. Bryan so graciously has stepped up to the task these last weeks and washed what we needed.

"Why?" - I'm sure you're wondering now.

It's because my sons clothes are mixed among the rest of ours. Wyatt's clothes that I would pick from and physically dress him in are in those baskets, some are clean and some waiting to be washed.

Today I walked to the back of our home to the laundry room. I sorted the small pile sitting in front of the clothes baskets that hold the clothing that is waiting to be washed. I sorted them by color, Wyatt's clothes too. I threw a load into the washing machine and started it to wash. In a small way, washing his clothing feels as if I'm washing him away. A small hair, his smell, anything that may have been lingering. As I watched the water wash over his red superhero shirt that laid on the top, I took a deep breath.

Today I washed the laundry.

I picked up a basket of clean clothes and walked it out to our dining room table, sat the white basket on a chair and began. I made piles of clothes, like I have done for years- Bryan's, mine, Maggie, Jilly and Wyatt's sit folded on the table.

Today I folded the laundry.

As I picked up each of his shirts, folded them in half, layed them neatly on the pile of his clothes. I ran my hand over the chest of the shirts to smooth it's surface. In doing so, I could feel his chest under my hand again. Just as I would when laying beside him in bed with my hand on his chest in those last weeks; feeling each of his breaths, his heart beat, tracing my finger around the loop of his central line to make sure the dressing was secure. He always hated when the dressing would lose its stick and become loose. My hand and my heart remembers the feeling so well. The moment that I placed my hand on his chest and I looked at my son and then up to his doctor that carried us all through these last few years. "He stopped. No. He stopped.", I believe I said. His chest was still, his breathing stopped, his heart was not beating. I remember so clearly looking to the doctor, who felt more like a friend. He held his stethoscope and laid his iPhone on the arm of our couch next to Wyatt's body as I moved my hand from his chest.

This all from smoothing the front of his shirts on the pile of his neatly folded clothes. I avoided doing the laundry for these weeks, knowing the memories that were thrown into those baskets.

But today I did the laundry.
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  1. Wow. The emotions in your writing are so strong I can feel them just by reading. Beautiful but so tragic. Wish you healing.

  2. Avoiding the laundry is far from strange. I don't think I've ever talked with, or read about, someone who was grieving and didn't struggle with laundry.

    Laundry is scent. Laundry touched the one you love. Laundry was one of many ways you showed your care, a part of every passing year. Laundry was always there, going on even when everything else was falling apart. Laundry has a rhythm to it, and closure.

    I've read of people who never, even years later, were able to make themselves wash, dry, fold, and put away the clothes their children were wearing at the end. It was just too final.

    I don't think you're strange at all. You're the kind of normal that people don't know is normal until they live it.

    Laundry is intimate. It is close.

    When it stops, it is another slice of death.

    It is no wonder you feel as you do.

    Thinking every day of you and of Wyatt,

    xoxo CiM