One day this past week, the whole family overslept a bit, so our wonderful part-time babysitter ended up being the person who got Jackson dressed in the morning. When I saw his outfit, my brow furrowed in confusion. “What are those pants?” I said, even though I knew immediately what they were. “Did you get those out of the bottom drawer of the dresser?” Obviously surprised, she said, “Yes, was that OK?” I recovered as quickly as I could and said, “Oh, sure, it’s fine. Those are Hudson’s pants. All the clothes in that bottom drawer were hers.”
Her little brown corduroys. 12-18 months size, which is the size she was wearing when she died, along with some 18 months, too. They fit Jackson perfectly at only nine months.
I knew this day would come, the day when he started wearing that same size (of course, it has come sooner than I thought, because he’s such a big kiddo). Soon the day will come when I will buy bigger sizes for him than she ever got a chance to wear (the only 24 months sizes I ever bought were some jammies I picked up on sale after her first birthday—they were so cheap that I bought a few pairs for the following winter, and of course, they never got used). Soon he will no longer be able to wear any more of her hand-me-downs, because there are no more.
In only eight short months, Jackson will be older than Hudson ever got a chance to be. What remains so incredibly striking and awful about that is the recognition, if not truly the understanding, of how terribly short a time it was that we got to spend with her. He is already well past the halfway mark of her entire little life. How is that possible? He is just now starting to hit all those awesome little developmental strides that she started to hit right around this same age. He has so very much awesomeness left to grow into. Why did she never get that chance?
As I’ve said before, I’m working on not dwelling too much on future events and milestones, but it is so hard to imagine what it will be like to watch Jackson grow up when Hudson never will, to watch him hit every milestone she never did. Of course I don’t want Jackson never to grow beyond seventeen months and twelve days, but watching it happen will be hard nevertheless.
As we get closer and closer to the time very soon when we will leave the only home Hudson ever knew, I feel more and more the weight of the monumental shift in our lives that this move will bring. More so than ever before, I feel like we are moving on without her. Even though I know for certain that she will be with us wherever we go (how could she not be?), I still don’t want to leave her behind.
I am reminded regularly these days of the night we left her at the hospital. It was probably close to 11:00 by the time we had cleared everything out of her room. Ed and I walked out of the hospital with our friend Scott. The car was parked just outside the sliding doors. Ed and Scott started loading the car with all the detritus collected over a three-day stay in the PICU with a dozen friends and family members. I opened the front passenger door to get in and suddenly it hit me that we were leaving without our little girl. Forever. My legs buckled under me and I folded myself over into the seat and sobbed. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t run back inside, take the elevator back up to the PICU, and fling myself over her body to prevent them from ever taking her away.
I see that moment in my mind’s eye over and over again every time I picture closing the door to this house behind us for the final time. It feels almost the same. Part of me wants to fling myself across the threshold in that moment and refuse to leave without her.
Part of me does not want to keep going on without her. Jackson will keep growing, I know. He has to. I want him to. But I also want endless hand-me-downs from his big sister for him to grow into. And those I cannot have.