Something To Hold On To

As I surveyed the rooms, I knew I had a monumental task in front of me.  Boxes and garbage bags as far as the eye could see. Hoarders would have a field day with me and all this crap.

Holy hell, where do I start?

7 years worth of books, discarded toys, outgrown clothes, things I didn’t need or use, but saved,  just in case I needed them again. An organizational nightmare made worse by all the new crap we lugged up here the day before David’s funeral. 5 months worth of school papers, outgrown clothes and toys.

Not to mention the baby things. David’s things. His clothes, his bassinet, his swing, his boppy. All the outgrown clothes, new clothes, clothes he had yet to grow into. I know this project will be the end of me. But it needs to be done if we ever want to finish renovating up here and actually use the bedrooms for more than junk collection.


I start with the LIFO method, last in first out. Chosen simply because I can’t walk but a foot into any of the doorways. I sort through 2 full boxes of school papers. 5 months worth of work for 2 kids. I whittle it down to a handful of papers and toss the rest.

Next up, clothes. So many boxes and bags full of clothes. I suppose lugging all the crap back downstairs will make it easier in the long-run – wash, sort, put away whatever fits, throw away the junkie stuff, box up the rest.

Sounds easy peasy.

I start with the boxes, avoiding David’s tiny dresser like the plague. One, two, three, six, nine, twelve…where the hell did all these clothes come from?  It’s going to take me days to sort them all.

And it does. Every day I spend time sifting through the bags and boxes sorting each piece into it’s appropriate pile.

Fortunately there’s plenty of things that fit the boys, a good bit to sell or giveaway and a couple of boxes for Zachary and Jonathan to grow into.

The washing machine hasn’t had a break in days and I wonder if it isn’t  just easier to dump everything into the washer first, and sort later. First up, a garbage bag full of clothes Zachary has outgrown.

As I’m dumping old Thomas t-shirts and bitty pairs of skivvies into the washer, the flash of yellow and blue catches my eye. What was that?

It sure looked small.

I reach in and pull it out, immediately knowing whose it is and as I stand there, holding the tiny “Little Brother” onesie in my hand,  all I can do is cry.

I hold it to my face and inhale, hoping to get a tiny whiff of the babe that once inhabited this tiny shred of cloth. My mind plays tricks on me and I’m sure I can smell that newborn baby smell complete with baby formula tainted breath. I see that toothless grin and those baby blues, made that much bluer with the bit of navy blue around the collar.


I dry my eyes and slip the tiny memory into the pocket of my sweater.

I throw the rest of the clothes in and start the washer. I return to my aforementioned task of sorting the multitudes of crap upstairs.

Every now and then, I tentatively slip my hand into my pocket, confirming the existence of my treasure.

If only I could stitch it around my broken heart and through my empty arms. Aching with the want of something to hold on to.

I would. I surely would.

This post was written in response to this week’s Red Writing Hood’s writing prompt: Write a piece about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it’s so meaningful to you or your character.

The piece should be less than 600 words and I am way proud of my 599. Please feel free to critique.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Something To Hold On To

  1. sharon

    Poignant but perfect.


  2. That last line is stunning and oh so perfect.

    All of it is.

    There is nothing that brings me more profoundly to a place or time than the sense of smell. You bring my own heartsmells right to me.

  3. I know I’ve said it before, but you are a really good writer. I’ve been called the Simon Cowell of editors, so know that I don’t say that lightly. If there was an American Idol of writers, you would easily win.

    But aside from your mad writing skills, I want you to know that I think of you every day and pray for you–even more so now that I hold my own baby boy. I knew it was hard for you, but I had no idea the depth of love that mommyhood would bring.

    To be honest–sometimes I have to block myself from thinking of little David. It breaks my heart and makes me cry for you. I can’t imagine what it is like for you–never to get a break from your broken heart, unending “Why God’s?” and constant reminders of what could have been.

    You are an amazing mom, an incredible person, and I know God must be giving you special grace and strength to make it through each day–and even tackling projects like this one.

  4. Leighann

    So well done. Not too sappy as you might have feared lol.
    It was wonderful.

  5. Leighann

    I totally posted the wrong comment on the wrong blog. Your comment is –
    All of the above but ignore the sappy part. That probably really confused you.
    Great job.

  6. There aren’t words available to comment on this post. Your writing is flawless and I could see those blue eyes and smell the tainted baby formula breath as my eyes skimmed through. I’m new to your blog and your strength is powerful.

  7. Patty

    I sometimes feel guilty reading your blog, because I so enjoy your writing and then realize that to you it is so much more than just words. If only there was a way we could preserve the smells that bring us back to a time or place or person we want so much to remember. Still praying for you as you daily face new smells.

  8. I’m certain that there’s nothing that I can say here that will bring you comfort.
    My heart just breaks at your loss. There are no words to tell you just how much.

    The part that will haunt me about this piece is this line, “All the outgrown clothes, new clothes, clothes he had yet to grow into.” That he never had a chance to outgrow his clothes leaves me without words.

    Your writing in this piece is perfect.
    You have an ability to help us walk a fine line. Before we plunge into the darkest depths of sadness, you pull us back to the surface just a bit.

  9. Oh my…

    There is something about sorting through those clothing piles straight out of hoarders – just in case we might need it again.

    Sometimes the memory is happy, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes a gut wrenching slice, pouring out our buried away anguish.

    You described the last one brilliantly, perfectly. You made me hug my children extra tight as they danced around my feet wondering why mommy was grabbing tissue for computer usage.

    I can’t wait to read more of your posts.

  10. There are no words, are there? And yet you find them. You bring us to your moment. To that tiny onesie, still holding that newborn smell. Just beautiful.

    I am so glad you are writing. I hope it somehow is bringing you small comfort.

  11. So heartbreaking.

  12. Oh that second to last sentence – heartbreaking AND beautifully written.

    I agree with what Nichole said about how you take us into the depths but then bring us back up again… I was thinking something similar but she said it perfectly.

  13. I love the scent of a little baby. It’s so comforting.

    So far today this has been the one post that has really made me cry. I simply can’t imagine what you’re going through.

    You’re writing is very good & I love coming back!

  14. Crazy how the mind works sometimes… you’re able to take yourself back to simpler, happier times just by the sight, smell, or sound of something familiar. Oh that newborn baby smell.

    Thank you for sharing. I’m new to the link-up… I promise my comments will get better with practice.

  15. The formula tainted breath…

    Oh, I am so very sorry for your loss.

    And thank you for sharing a fraction of your grief in such a lovely way.

  16. “Every now and then, I tentatively slip my hand into my pocket, confirming the existence of my treasure.” I love that.

    This is my favorite of the handful of TRDC posts that I’ve read this morning. So glad I found you!

  17. I read this last night with tears in my eyes. I couldn’t think of a single comment that didn’t feel…trite.

    But I did want you to know that I read your beautiful words and they transported me to a room filled with clutter and clothes.

    You are an amazing writer.

  18. My heart hurts for you.
    Well written as well.

  19. “If only I could stitch it around my broken heart and through my empty arms. Aching with the want of something to hold on to.”

    So beautiful and so tragic.

    Once again, no words. Hug!

  20. I wish I had the words but there are none! I’ve always been the type of person to hold stuff in up until the last couple of years because I realized I was like a time bomb waiting to explode. I found courage recently after reading your blog to write about the loss of my baby. Wishing you moments of peace!

  21. Breaking my heart, I wish you were not going through such unimaginable pain. Thinking of you and remembering the life of that little boy who should be in that onesie.

  22. That you are able to find these vivid, incredibly moving words while you are still so close to the source, to the wound… is incredible.

    Then again I do know something about writing through the pain, as I began my blog last winter while my father was dying, to get through my father’s dying.

    But a father is not a child. I cannot begin to imagine the depth of your pain and loss. There are just no words. And yet you find them, and so beautifully.

  23. This really tugs at the heart. Well written, too.

  24. I couldn’t possibly critique. It’s beautiful and poignant.

  25. Wish I could give you a hug. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this little piece of you with us.

  26. This line is beautiful. If only I could stitch it around my broken heart and through my empty arms.
    Very well written post. I love how descriptive you are, it really transplants me into your memory.

  27. My heart is aching for you.

  28. Love this. THank you for posting it to the Blog Hop this week!

  29. I’m visiting from Wednesday Window . . . I didn’t realize you lost two of your little ones until I skimmed through some other posts in your blog. So sorry for your pain! Wishing your peace and healing. Blessings!

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