Flannel Sheets & Memories

I changed the sheets today. Not a particularly exciting task, except that as I dug around in the linen cupboard I realized both sets of flannel sheets that fit my bed were in the wash, and the temperature isn’t due to shift above 10 degrees Fahrenheit until some time next year. And yeah, I realize that’s less than a week away but that’s still another five days of frigid weather and me with plain old—cold—linen sheets. And no, I’m not going to change them again once I wash the flannels. Not until the requisite week is up.

I hate changing the sheets.

As if this discovery weren’t bad enough to ruin my evening, I also did something else whilst sifting through the over-stuffed linen cupboard. I pulled out all the twin bed sheet sets and packed them away. Which turned into an act of nostalgia I wasn’t quite prepared for.

You see, my daughter got a new bed for Christmas. She’s been in her twin bed since she was three, and now she’s twelve—and almost five-and-a-half feet tall. She’s not a kid anymore, at least not in stature. And she shares that tiny bed with the dog, who sleeps a lot like I do—stretched from edge to edge with no concern for the other occupant of her sleeping space.

A bigger bed was long overdue.

Which means we no longer have a need for twin sheets. As soon as we haul hers off to Salvation Army, there will be no more twin beds in my household. One more piece of my children’s childhood, gone.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to pack away ‘baby’ stuff. A couple years ago, my daughter went through her room herself and donated all the dolls and various other kiddie stuff to charity. She kept her Legos, the stuffed animals, books, and only a few other playsets. And then last year, a few months after my son died, she and my husband went through the basement and piled all those toys into his truck and handed them over to charity.

So, like I said, this small, seemingly meaningless task hit me harder than expected. Somehow, over the course of my kids’ childhood, we’d managed to procure some pretty darn cute sheets. Flannel, ironically. (But I don’t sleep in a twin bed, so no, they wouldn’t have worked for my purposes.) And they remind me of happy times, when my babies were, well, babies, and flannel sheets with snowmen on them were fun. Back when they liked to snuggle, and I liked to sneak into their bedrooms and watch them sleep.

Back when we believed they both had their whole lives ahead of them.

Now, I only have one, and she’s outgrown these adorable flannel sheets. Hell, she doesn’t like flannel sheets at all, let alone those with cute characters dancing across them.

Tonight, I tucked away another piece of my life, my past, my memories.

~Tami

School Pics & Deep Thoughts

We received my daughter’s school pictures today. It’s a day I’ve dreaded since March. Not literally because it was her sixth grade pic – for such an awkward age, I think she looks pretty darn cute, actually.

The school pics are proudly displayed in side-by-side, 8×10 inch silver frames. Each year when we receive new pics, I open the frames, look through those from years past and then add the new one to the front. Then I replace the frame in its place of honor, near the backdoor, which sees way more traffic than the front, so they get a lot more views that way.

This year, I have only one to update. My son’s seventh grade school picture is the last one we will ever have. It won’t change. He’s gone forever. My daughter’s pictures will update each year; she will grow and change, and he won’t.

When I placed her updated picture next to his, it didn’t look right. They were almost three years apart in age, two years apart in school. Now she looks only a year behind him. Next year it will be her seventh grade pic, then eighth. At some point, she will look older than he does. She will move on to high school. Senior pics. Graduation photos. College. Hopefully, a wedding photo, then family portraits with her own kids.

And all we’ll ever have of my son is his seventh grade school picture.

I’ve had this conversation with my dad, who asked what I thought he should do with the photos in his own home. My husband and I have also had this conversation. None of us had an answer.

And now the day has arrived, and I need to make a decision, for my own state of mind. I looked through his school pics, thinking maybe I’d just replace the seventh grade one with an older one, one from elementary school, when he still had that utterly adorable baby face, when we could not in a million years have imagined let alone predicted his life would be cut short at thirteen.

It still didn’t feel right.

And then I thought about the plethora of baby pics. You know how it is in the first few years. You take a million pictures and save every one. I found an 8×10 from when he had just turned four, and my daughter had passed her first birthday only a few months prior. One of my favorites. Possibly the favorite.

I slid it into the frame in front of the school pics and replaced it on the shelf. And you know what? It works.

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Who Cries Over Middle School?

It took me a few moments to realize why I was crying on the second day of school. Who cries on the second day of middle school? Hell, most parents don’t cry on the first. Kindergarten, yes. But middle school?

Unfortunately, this situation is anything but normal.

You see, on March 15, 2016, the last time I would ever speak to my son while he was alive, I drove him to school. Middle school. We were in a rush, because he had to be there by 7:15 for jazz band practice, and I was running behind. I pulled up in front of the school and slid the gear into park and said, “Don’t forget to turn in your math homework.”

“Okay.”

“Have a good day. I love you.”

“Love you, too. Bye.”

It was our final goodbye, although I didn’t know it at the time. I cannot tell you how many times since that day I have felt grateful that we weren’t sniping at each other; that I wasn’t upset about something he’d said or done, that he wasn’t mad at me for some parenting thing or another. It had been a normal day, like any other. Until it wasn’t.

Fast-forward five months to today, and we’re rushing to get out the door (largely because my daughter is not and never has been a morning person, one aspect that is 180 degrees different from her brother). As we’re driving down the road, heading to school, she is rearranging the supplies in her backpack while I’m trying to coax her into eating the Pop-Tarts she snagged on the way out the door. I know her; if she doesn’t eat she gets hangry, and they don’t do mid-morning snacks in middle school.

And then we’re at the school, and I’ve pulled up in front and dropped the gear into park. “Have a great day,” I say. “I love you. See you after work.”

“Love you, too. Bye.”

And she’s off, heading toward the building, determined to get to her first class on time. I shift the car into drive and cruise through the parking lot toward the road, and I’m waiting for traffic to clear so I can turn, when the tears start. “Why am I crying?” I say out loud as I dig a tissue out of the console.

That’s when the memory of that day in March hits me.

Other than the first day of school every year, I’ve never driven my daughter to school. She has always taken the bus. I didn’t start driving my son to school until halfway through seventh grade, just a few months before it all ended. He didn’t like his bus driver, and I literally drove past his school every day, so it wasn’t an inconvenience, other than his school started a bit later, so he usually had to wait outside the doors until they would let the students in, because I had to get to work. He insisted he didn’t mind.

Now, my daughter is in a new school, and while it is slightly out of my way to drop her off before heading to work, it’s only a mile or so, and her school starts early, so it works out to be exactly when I would leave for work anyway.

So I get to relive that horrible day in March, every school day, for the foreseeable future. I haven’t told my daughter this, and I don’t plan to (luckily, she doesn’t read my blogs). She doesn’t like it when I cry, so I do my best to hide it from her. My therapist says I shouldn’t, that I should show her it’s okay to cry. But I don’t, because I know how she feels. I hate it when my parents are sad, too. She’s an empathetic girl, almost too much so, and I know my pain causes her pain. Since it’s a pain that will never go away no matter what I do, I see no point in drawing attention to it.

Instead, I’ll tell her I love her every day. And I will strive to never, ever be upset with her when I drop her off for school in the morning.

And I’ll make sure the middle console in my car is stocked with tissues.

 

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