We’d been packing for two days to leave on vacation. This sounds extreme, but we’re essentially camping. We have to pack everything in and out: food, water, clothes, books, lantern fuel, solar charger, kids, their stuff, life jackets, water toys, dogs, dog food, everything. The cars were packed, banana bread baked, plants watered, fridge cleared out, and I was crossing the last items off the to-do list and the to-pack list. I wandered into the bedroom and saw your blanket, your box, on their shelves next to the bed, and I dissolved into tears: the wet, sobby, moany kind. Two years ago at this time I was likely doing the same things, making the same lists. This was in a different house, in a different town, with you growing in my belly. At that point we knew something might be wrong with you, but not what. We feared we might lose you, feared for your safety, but still believed you would make it. We were doing all we could do: wait to see how you were growing, wait for more information. So we went on vacation, as planned.
Two years later, we have moved house, moved towns, had a new baby, your little brother. You are no longer inside me, but in a tiny bag, on a little shelf, in the northeast corner of our house. There are dragons placed there to protect you, stars to honor you, and flowers to show our love. It is not much for a beloved daughter, but what can we do for you now, but remember and love you? As I packed to leave you were on my mind, and now that it is time to go, I cannot leave you. We are all going: your big and little brothers, your Dad, our dogs, everyone is leaving this house and I cannot leave you alone here. So, I take you out of your urn, put your little bag of ashes into a pink silk bag that used to hold jewelry, put in a red leather heart from your shrine, tuck it all in a zippered make-up bag, and put you in my purse. You’re coming with us.
I see your Dad in the kitchen and collapse into him, “ I couldn’t leave her here. She’s coming with us.” And so you are with us. First on a last trip to the grocery store, then in the boat across to the island, and now on my dresser here. My mind tells me this is a little weird. My heart is simply glad to have what’s left of you close, glad to have us all together in the only way possible for now.