Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Entombed

Monday, October 01, 2007


I entered the dusty guest room and moved the heavy nightstand blocking the attic storeroom door. I pulled the door open and flipped the light switch, scanning the room for fall decorations and items I might use to decorate for Erik's birthday party. To my right stood the bulky, frosting-pink box in which my wedding dress was sentenced to spend the remainder of its existence with the air professionally vacuumed out of each fiber of fluffy lace and meringue-like veil. Musty, tightly-coiled sleeping bags surrounded it like dusty snakes on guard. As I stepped deeper into the room, taking care not to hit my head on the sloping ceiling, my brain went absolutely blank. I suddenly and inexplicably could not recall why I was in the room. I smiled at my forgetfulness. As I scanned the room, I felt my smile fade. I had been in this room thousands of times but could suddenly visualize things I had never noticed before. My neat, serial killer style block print in black Sharpie marker very concisely announced the contents of an army of old diaper boxes sealed shut with glossy packing tape. Most contained preemie-sized baby clothing, swaddling blankets, and tiny caps. The large box my toe nestled against contained what remained of my collection of maternity clothing, including the flowing blouses and pin-striped, button-up shirts I wore over my swelling stomach to my old job. Sitting on top of all of this was a collection of things too bulky to fit in boxes or simply tossed there to wait for one of my manic cleaning episodes.

I inhaled a large amount of attic air and attempted to concentrate again on the stack of folding chairs to my left and birthday party planning. My eyes wandered against all neurological orders issued by my brain. I could only stare at the baby bathtub sitting atop a pile of boxes like an adorable shipwreck. I peeked inside and spotted a bag full of plastic baby bottles. I turned away and straightened my collection of boxes, thankful I couldn't see inside them. I stacked them along the wall out of the way. Amazingly, I caught myself stalling for time. I felt as if there was a monster behind me. How pathetic could I be? I just could not seem to control what was happening here.

Just what was happening here, anyway?

These items did not bring me joy or trigger anything remotely maternal. They reminded me of death. The death that occurred years ago now that not many could feel or even knew occurred. I only felt memories of dark nights and horrible pain. Even the Huggies boxes suddenly seemed like brightly-colored coffins. I felt a spurt of adrenaline issue from deep within my torso. As it dispersed, my heart and lungs began to labor as if I was walking uphill. Nausea twisted my stomach.

I automatically grabbed the blue plastic bathtub and began to fill it with loose items. The Baby Bjorn carrier. The Boppy covered with the word "baby" and cheerful cartoon bees. The diaper wipe warmer. I carried the tub out of the room and set it on the carpet. Going back into the storage space, I glanced around the room and felt relief. I looked at Erik's saucer toy and items he had recently outgrown. I felt nothing. I picked up the boxes containing the baby swing and the baby bouncer, but a wall of guilt kept me from carrying them out of the room. I stacked them with the other boxes, extinguished the light coming from the two bare light bulbs inside, and shut the door behind me. I moved the nightstand back into place, entombing the dusty items inside once again.

I carried everything outside into the dewy, fall morning to my Jeep and placed them in the back, ready to drop off when I passed a Goodwill donation station sometime in the next week. My pain, someone else's gain. The panic faded as I shoved the heavy hatch closed and heard it slam shut. My lungs filled with fresh air. I could breathe again.

I want to move on. I need to let go. I am going to bury this pain, little by little.

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Blogger Amy said...

Someone asked me today for old newborn stuff to donate to a person in need. I replied that I have none, it is ALL gone, and whatever I have left she can have, I would be very happy to donate it and be done with it. Once Avery grew out of some item, a toy or clothing, I got rid of it. I don't know why, but I did not want it anymore. I guess I thought getting rid of it would make me feel better. That we could pass it on for a good cause, and erase the pain of the past three years. Looking at those items don't bring me instant fondness, the opposite. Relief that Avery has FINALLY passed into some new developmental phase. I HATE that she couldn’t use half her toys at the age indicated on the side of the box that says 6months+ until she was well over a year old or more. And being pregnant and by myself, how much lonelier and pathetic can you get? My maternity clothes were donated to a charity for pregnant unwed mothers 10 days after I gave birth. It has helped, to remove these items from my life. It calms me, hoping that someone will find happier times with these items than I did.


12:41 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Nancy I love you. I don't know what else to say. You write so beautifully. I get what Amy said about the toys. I just said to my husband, I dont know what to get Noah for xmas. He is just now playing with the stuff we bought last year. It is tuff. Going to the seminar this weekend was a huge eye opener. I can honestly say it was like I had just been told he had a syndrome. I just had know idea. I think I have been living in a fog.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Nancy, I love your posts. Everything you write, I feel but can't express. I have trouble just looking at pictures of Payton when she was a baby because it brings back so much pain. We lost a son when I was about 5 months along when Payton was one. It seems like there's just a lot of pain when you have a special needs child or have experienced a miscarriage. Thanks for being so honest in all of your posts.

2:41 PM  
Blogger camille said...

Wow, I feel like I was in your attic with you. I too walk into rooms not knowing what I'm doing there - you're not alone in that!! I too have given a lot of stuff away because any reminders of that infant stage was terrible.

I can't say I know what you're going through. But I hope writing about it does get those feelings out and bring you some peace.

Love ya!

3:43 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I dont find myself grieving about toys or clothing, this is probably because many of them have been through 3 kids now they dont hold much meaning to anyone. I think i feel it the most everytime Lachie passes a new milestone when i should be celebrating my third childs intelligence and eager learning skills, i find myself unable to share his joy, instead im grieving for all the things Jaiden didnt do, Everyday i see Lachie catching up more and more and i am so very scared of the day he overtakes his big brother.

4:58 PM  
Blogger All moments remembered said...

When will you write your first book? WOW you had tears welling up in my eyes. I remember giving up all the baby stuff and it just tore my insides out. I can only imagine how you must have felt. I am so sorry Nancy! We dream of fairy tales with the perfect endings and not always do we get them. I know the WS is nothing you ever expected and sure didnt want but I give you so much credit for the strenght you deal with it. Your courage is amazing. Erik is so lucky to have you as his mommy!! I have no idea what it is like to deal with WS but your stories make me understand your life a little better all the time! HUGE HUGS to you and Erik!!

5:45 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

You put us right there with you, you have that ability.

I love you.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Jean Claude said...

As I read through the comments left by the readers, fans, of your blog I cannot agree with their words enough. You do indeed have a wonderful gift for putting words on a page and making them come to life capturing your audience and making them dance to your written tune. This gift, ability, knack for writing is just one of the many things I admire about you. I felt a helpless pain in my heart as I read your post. For a moment I relived vivid memories of my own about that time in your life and what you were going through. I know this week will be filled with challenges, obstacles, and grrrrrrrrrr moments but you are strong and will deal with them as you have everything else. Erik is so very lucky to have you as his mother. The powers in the universe knew that only a person with your spirit, strong will and huge heart could handle the road ahead. I admire and adore you as always and that while I am continually amazed at the things you accomplish and work through I not surprised by them in the least.

Your favorite blog lurker.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Jean-Claude: Merci beaucoup. J'espère que vous savez que vous êtes forts, aussi.

P.S. Vous a pris assez longtemps pour faire des remarques.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

what a powerful post! I also felt like I was there with you walking through the attic. I don't know your history, but I felt like I could identify with some of your feelings. Thanks for sharing what I'm sure were pretty raw emotions.

4:29 PM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Nancy... I am at a loss for words here! All I've got here is one VERY BIG HUG for you! I love your writing, I just wish that it wasn't so sad. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and a GIFT FROM GOD... ENJOY IT! ~ jb///

5:53 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Thanks for sharing... I know it is hard for you to think back upon Erik's baby days. Love you lots ~

8:28 PM  

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