It won’t be Hudson’s room for much longer. I am finally being forced to start coming to terms with that. If the world were a different place, if this terrible thing had never happened, it still wouldn’t be Hudson’s room for much longer—we’d be preparing to move her into a new room of her own so that her little brother or sister could move into the once-again nursery in a few months. But oh, how different that change would be. That would be a graduation, whereas this is just… I don’t know what this is. As much as I don’t want it to feel like a replacement, that is what it feels like nonetheless, even though I know in my heart that is not what it is, nor what it could ever be.
We’ve done nothing to Hudson’s room except move a few of her toys in there. Her clothes are still folded up in her drawers and hanging in her closet. Her diapers and wipes and cream are still in a basket at the end of the changing table. Her books are still on their shelf at the end of the crib. We haven’t emptied the clothes hamper, which still holds the fuzzy pajamas in which she woke up early on Mother’s Day, burning up with a fever, and the outfits she wore the few days before that and on Mother’s Day itself. (The clothes she wore on Monday, the day she was admitted to the hospital, a pair of pants with whales on them, a light blue top, socks and her tennis shoes, are still in the diaper bag they came home in, which is still under the table in Hudson’s playroom where her ashes sit with her Elmo and other toys, books, and pictures. Every so often, I open the diaper bag and pull the clothes out, pass them from hand to hand, wondering what the hell happened here. I haven’t been able to bring myself to do anything but put them back in the diaper bag and put the bag back under the table.) We haven’t even emptied the humidifier of the water that was in its tank. I do go in there fairly often just to sit, or cry, or talk to her, or run my fingers over the crib rails, or lean over into the crib and pat her bears, just like I used to pat her when I would say goodnight. I just don’t move anything anywhere.
Conventional wisdom is that it is “unhealthy” for bereaved parents to keep a “shrine” to their children. I’ve certainly heard stories of parents who have kept their children’s rooms unchanged for the rest of their lives. I have no idea whether this is “unhealthy” (or what that even means in this context), nor would I ever make such a judgment about how any parent decided to honor their child’s memory or deal with their grief, but I absolutely understand the instinct to leave everything completely untouched. My general plan in all this was to leave Hudson’s room as it was until there was a reason to do something different, which most likely would mean making room for another baby. Once we actually got pregnant, I decided I could put it off until we found out whether we were having a boy or a girl, at which point, if we were having a boy, we could go ahead and pack all of Hudson’s girl clothes away, hopefully for another little girl down the road, or, if we were having a girl, we could sort them into age piles and put the infant clothes back into the drawers again.
We’re now two weeks away from finding out what we’re having. I know there is nothing about that day that means I all of sudden have to pack up Hudson’s room, but the inevitable is still looming out there. Once we started receiving gifts for the Penguin, I was purposely avoiding putting them in Hudson’s room, as if once we started doing that, it was just a long slippery slope of changing it into a room for a different child. But then Ed put one of the outfits in there, which broke the ice for me, I guess. So this weekend, I pulled together all the penguin outfits we’d received, along with the ones I’d bought from Gymboree (which ultimately I didn’t even want to go through—I realized I didn’t want to risk getting too excited about the adorable little girl clothes unless there ends up being a reason to, so all but one of the outfits, which is unisex, is still sitting unwrapped in the box), and went to put them in Hudson’s room. I put the Gymboree box on the floor but wasn’t sure what to do with the other clothes. I couldn’t put them in the drawers yet, because the drawers are still full. The changing pad still had the same cover and waterproof pad on it that were there on May 10, the last day they were used. I pulled them off and threw them in the hamper and then laid the new outfits on top of the bare changing pad.
And then I ran out, sobbing. Putting the new baby’s things into Hudson’s room is a very tangible beginning to accepting that a new baby will live there and Hudson will not. Hudson won’t live anywhere in our home again, at least not physically. Our two babies will never know each other, at least not here on the earth.
Even though the time will come very soon when I will have no choice but to accept this reality, I’m just not ready. Not yet.