I lent our double stroller to my friend today.
As I was loading it into my car, I grieved deeply over the fact that I no longer needed it.
When I unfolded it to show my friend some of its features, I realized I had not cleaned it or removed Jud’s belongings since his death.
On the front rail were several finger stains he had left while eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then hanging on tightly when I gave him and Jessie “the wildest ride in the wilderness.”
In the pockets of the stroller I found toothpicks and empty Ziploc bags from our last trip to the farmers’ market. Jud loved going to get “tasters.” He was particularly fond of the peaches, tamales, and coffee cake.
I found a Lightening McQueen sticker. I remember when Jud was given these stickers at Payless shoes. It was before he had gotten ill; we had been looking to get him some new treads and stumbled upon some “Cars” paraphernalia. The clerk at the store heard Jud’s excitement over McQueen and brought him several stickers sporting his beloved car. Jud beamed from ear to ear.
I also found some friends of Thomas the Tank Engine: Ben and Mavis. Jud had received both these trains after he had gone blind but could still use his hands to decipher which one was which.
I slipped the McQueen sticker in my pocket and the trains in my purse. Strangely, the trash in my hand felt sacred. However, I knew I needed to throw it away nonetheless. As I disposed of these unlikely mementos, it was as though all the blood in my body raced to my hands that were letting go of another piece of Jud. I leaned over the nearby sink, taking deep breaths, trying to find the strength necessary to live in that moment.
These unexpected, yet direct confrontations with the reality of Jud’s absence paralyze me, causing time to stand still as the world around me keeps moving.