Losing Judson has meant facing a lifetime of slowly letting go…letting go of hopes, dreams, expectations, and even tangible reminders of my boy. It is now primarily a gradual surrender within the natural flow of living — necessary and healthy, though still wrenching. Most of the time the process is slow and occurs over time with the rhythms of life, but periodically it is abrupt and unexpected causing significant tearing of my bereaved heart.
As Jessie is getting older and her personal interests are growing and changing, we want our internal and external worlds to expand to accommodate her development. And as grieved parents, part of that expansion for us includes letting go of more ties to Judson—ways that we have been emotionally, physically, and mentally tied to Jud through Jessie, as well as tangible bonds too.
After much thought, some discussion, and a weighing of the emotional costs, Drake and I decided it was time to re-decorate and update Jessie’s room so it more aptly reflects her personality and interests. Mostly, it needed to be girl-ified – adding more pink, purple and other frilly things that strike our ladybug’s fancy. In turn, this required removing Jud and Jessie’s crib that has been sitting unused in the corner for over a year, along with Judson’s vehicles and other mementos on the wall that have not been touched since he died. But…the upper bunk of her bed that serves as a tribute to our boy we decided to keep unaltered, dressed in a McQueen sheet and filled with precious keepsakes from Jud’s life.
So about a week ago, I got to work. I started the process by unassembling the crib. With each twist of the screwdriver I recalled the afternoon we had put the crib together in anticipation of Judson’s arrival and all the days of getting my boy in and out of his haven dressed with little lamb sheets; I was slowly letting go. And I breathed deeply allowing myself to feel the sadness as I hauled each piece of the crib from the room.
Removing the crib created space for me to reposition the bunk bed on the other end of the wall. And since Drake wasn’t home, I figured all I needed was a little elbow grease and I could push and pull the “big kid” bed across the room by myself. With a few grunts and some brute strength, the bunks began to budge, sliding across the carpet pretty easily. With a push here and pull there I was fairly close to getting the bed into place when I suddenly heard a loud CRUNCH that sounded like splitting wood. I stopped immediately to assess the situation. I touched the bed ever-so slightly and it began to sway, unstable and ready to crumble.
I called Drake immediately in a panic, hoping it was simply some loose screws that could easily be remedied, but fearing more. He was at the Starbucks around the corner and came home immediately. We removed the top bunk so we could safely assess the situation and quickly discovered irreparable damage. Not only had all the bolts that secure the screws been severely stripped, the wood had dangerously splintered into two pieces at a critical joint. The bed was unsalvageable.
I collapsed to the floor in utter anguish at the severe, abrupt, and unexpected letting go suddenly occurring. This splintered wood was splintering my heart anew, shredding and tearing in places that were not ready to be ripped away. No, no, no, no! I cried. I am not ready! It felt as though I was being forcibly shoved farther away from my son…completely unprepared for the new distance between us. I laid on his McQueen pillow and wept bitterly.
It has been over a week and my eyes continue to pool with tears at the thought. Like the bunk-bed, I might appear sturdy, but in reality can be easily splintered, ready to crumble.