Playing with Jessie up in her room the other night, she stumbled upon a large, clear, unfamiliar box in her closet. Curious, she asked if she could open in it to see what was inside. Though I knew it would stir all sorts of emotions within me, I proceeded to let her rummage through the contents. She found some of my old stuffed animals from childhood, a few items of particular value to Drake, some of her own baby clothes, and then multiple garments that had been worn by her brother.
She was very inquisitive about each item, especially intrigued by those that belonged to Judson. She asked about each piece of his clothing, when he wore them, and then inquired as to whether or not they would fit her. All of Jud’s clothes were far too small for my rapidly growing peanut but she continued rifling through with great interest. She suddenly erupted with glee upon discovering a pair of Lightning McQueen pajama bottoms.
“Oh, can I please wear these, mommy!”
Tears began to pool in my eyes. “Uh, I’m not sure they’ll fit you Jessie,” I responded with great hesitancy as I checked the size on the tag, remembering that these pajamas were worn by Jud during his last days.
“They’re so cool. I really want to wear them,” she interjected, unaware of the intense feelings that were stirring inside me.
The tag said XS (3-4)…just her size.
I tried to distract her by pointing out the remaining contents of the box then subtly stuffed the pajamas under the pile of already-discovered items hoping she would quickly forget about Jud’s special flannel McQueen PJs. Meanwhile, I took deep breaths, trying to keep it together as Jessie finished going through every article of clothing, one-by-one, gently placing them outside the box.
Upon emptying the clear plastic container, she turned around with a face of determination, clearly seeking something specific. “Where are those McQueen…” she began to ask, but was interrupted by her own discovery while frantically fumbling through the pile.
“Here they are!” she enthusiastically stated. “Can I please wear them to bed?”
I hemmed and hawed trying to sort through all that was stirring in my soul at her request, when suddenly a picture of my joyous Jud passed through my thoughts, as if to indicate he would delight in seeing his sister wearing his McQueen PJs. “That would be quite a treat, wouldn’t it sweetie,” I expressed, as I continued to process the significance. “I think Jud would very much want to share his pajamas with you,” I conceded as tears fell from my eyes.
Jumping up and down, Jessie held the pajamas tightly to her chest expressing great enthusiasm.
Later that evening when we got her dressed for bed and she finally donned the flannel McQueen pants, she was filled with delight. And as she rolled around in the khaki bean bag chair she declared, “I would really like to wear these when I go to heaven and see Jud. He would really like that!”
In that moment, I realized the solidarity and love for Jud she was communicating by wearing his clothes.
I hope I never allow the weight of my own grieving heart to thwart my sweet Jessie’s expressions of care for her brother.