I can never permanently escape “memory triggers” that bring my lost children vividly into my thoughts and emotions. In the first year after the death of Anne and Adam, those painful flashes struck me many times each day. They sometimes tripped me into almost paralyzing sadness.
It could be a glimpse into their room, bumping into their little friends, a familiar tv character, a child’s voice, a toy or a pillow, a favourite song, a car like ours, the playground or McDonalds. There were literally thousands of those spontaneous triggers.
I had to get rid of my son and daughter’s clothing. But how? I didn’t want to give it to a local charity. I feared I might one day see a similar clothing article on a child and think it had belonged to my son or daughter.
Just last month this dilemma and the solution came clearly back to mind as I sat on a five hour flight home from a business meeting. It reminded me of the trip my husband and I took to Jamaica about a year after the first tragic accident. I had two extra suitcases packed with Anne & Adam’s summer clothing to give away to Jamaican children in need.
I connected with one of the servers at my hotel and asked if she knew children who could use the clothing. She did and we met after her shift. She agreed to distribute the items to needy families and I handed over the suitcases.
A year or so later I learned of a group heading to Jamaica to build houses for the poor. We donated $2000 for construction of a home. It was money saved from baby bonus cheques for Anne and Adam’s future. Our parish priest returned from the group’s Jamaica trip with a picture of a new house. There was a plank over the door that read, “In Memory of Anne & Adam”.
Back at home their bedrooms stayed as they were as I slowly gave things away to their friends and family members who wanted a little part of them. My idea was not to maintain a shrine but to gradually let go as I parted with some things and held on to other pieces of them. The rooms were finally emptied four years later when we sold the house at the time of our separation.
I was just recently decluttering and had to throw out the little aviation jacket of Adam’s that I had kept all these years. It was made of pleather with a synthetic collar & aviation crests. The jacket was disintegrating. I found change in one of the pockets. Adam was quite the young clown and performer. His uncle Cléo had given him this change after Adam sang his little song at the campfire on one of our camping trips.
Paul who was 19 years old was living with his father at the time of his death. I received a few of his belongings including his Oakley sunglasses which I kept with me in my truck. When my truck was stolen, the sunglasses too were taken.
What I now have left of my children are pictures and memories.