Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh Shirt.

As I wrote before, Jack’s sheets had been changed the morning of the accident. His dirty sheets were downstairs by the washer and accidentally got washed by friends before I had the mental capacity to consider saving them. All of his clothes were clean and folded.

So, for weeks one of my best friends has been praying fervently that we would find something, anything that smelled like Jack. A week ago I went into his room and spotted a gray long-sleeved Ski Utah tee crumpled on the floor. I hadn’t seen it there before. I picked it up, nervous yet hopeful.

It smelled like Jack.

Margaret and I shoved our faces in it, inhaling deeply. Thank you God, for this gift!

So yesterday I was folding laundry and picked up… a Ski Utah shirt.

Crap. I’d washed it.

73 comments:

Karen said...

Daniel had just visited home from college on Labor Day weekend. He left on Sunday and had left a few clothes behind that I hadn't washed yet. When he died that Wednesday night, I found one of his shirts and carried it around for days. So glad you had one more chance to have Jack's shirt! The smell would leave you too soon anyway. Love and hugs!

Anonymous said...

I come back multiple times a day just waiting for your next post.
Not that this compares but I lost my best friend a few years ago and I still have hard days. He always had a certain scent and I have never smelled anyone that smells as he did. On days that I can not get him off my mind his scent comes to me and it is so comforting and I know he is saying he is still here when I need him. Hang in there, I think of you four so much. Xoxo.
With love from the midwest.

Meredith Self said...

I'm glad you got to smell Jack again...if only for a moment. :(

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

i agree that even if for a moment, it was a gift. so glad you and margaret shared in that moment.

Ann Imig said...

What a treasure.

(Tears)

ella said...

There's something about a smell, isn't there? It can transport you to another time, a better place...as if none of this had ever happened. Oh how I wish this had never happened, Anna.

I remember doing the same thing when my dad died. I'd go into his closet and sit for what seemed like hours just soaking up any lingering smell of him. If I try real hard I can imagine that smell today, 17 years later. Amazing.

the mama bird diaries said...

I'm glad your prayers were answered. Sending love and more prayers. xo

Lisa said...

I am happy that the prayers were answered...I know what it is like to want to capture that certain scent of your loved one. Sometimes, when I need it most, I can detect my mom's scent on the breeze as I walk to clear my mind....I hope you will find Jack's scent again...soon. Hugs...

The Mommy Therapy said...

I feel like I got punched in the stomach when you said you washed it by accident.

I'm sure having that scent while you did was amazing though. Maybe something else will turn up?

won said...

I have the same regret. Friends washed my late daughter's things, too.

There's an odd comfort in knowing I'm not alone in that.

marissa said...

Have you thought about washing something of his in his shower gel instead of regular detergent? I mean, soap is soap, and I completely understand scent being important to you (I sleep with one of my husband's undershirts over a pillow when he's away on business trips because it helps me fall asleep faster).

I am so glad that you found that shirt--I cheered a little when I read that.

Sasha said...

I don't know why this hit me so hard this evening. My heart aches for you sweet Anna, but I know you will find that smell again.

Cynthia said...

Prayer answered!!!! But like Mommy Therapy, I felt that punch, too.... It's going back on the list. I love you so much.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

We love you guys so much!

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

My heart wings its way to yours and envelops you in an embrace; a tender calm quiet embrace.

Kelley said...

Crying over here. I can't even imagine. I never thought about not washing clothes of someone who has been lost. I will definitely remember that.

New Mom said...

But thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the FRAGRANCE of the knowledge of Him. (2 Cor. 2:14)

Alissa said...

Scents are so powerful, aren't they? Certain smells can pull me back down to a place or person as though I'm right back there. They're haunting.

I've been reading your blog for a while and wanted to throw yet another voice out there among the people who are rooting for you and your family. It's been such a privilege to read about your son.

And by the way, your post about Heaven the other day made me smile. I sure hope it's better than all those things--sex most definitely included.

Lots of love from Seattle,
Alissa

The Empress said...

Oh...

:sharp prickly tears to my eyes:

Mediterrangirl said...

Oh, Anna, your sweet family crosses my mind several times a day! In fact, when I saw the beautiful carved pumpkin, I thought it was jack. So handsome! I just hope your burden gets a little lighter knowing how many of us are crying and praying for you. Warm hug from a Vienna mom.

irv family said...

Have you smelled his hats? They hold smell for along time!!! Pretty sure you haven't washed those! Put them in a plastic container and they will hold their smell!

Lady Jennie said...

Well I'm going to pray you find another item that smells like him and that you can put it in a very special place.

OSMA said...

Yes, agree with irv family...hats! Even old winter hats/jackets/gloves? Or possibly a piece of clothing put away because he had outgrown it? A stray something behind the laundry machine? Felt the punch too when you realized his shirt had been washed. Maybe something else will unveil itself when you're not looking. Thinking of you and will now be praying for hidden dirty laundry. xoxo
Erin

Formerly known as Frau said...

Damn I'm sorry...
I'm from Utah I was so excited that, that was the shirt....I hope you find something else maybe a coat or stuff animal that smells like sweet Jack! ((hugs))

Kara said...

Oh shirt is right! I wish I stayed on top of laundry as well as you do- or maybe I wish you were more like me in your laundering habits. Of course, I also imagine that you are keeping yourself compulsively busy so as not to let your mind wander.So thankful you got to smell that shirt for just a little bit, and praying that somehow, some way a little more of his scent comes your way.

Katie said...

I prayed so fervently those first few days for no pain over Jack's laundry. So many things that can bring pain and cherished memories at the same time. Much love and prayers of peace.

Rach said...

OH no. Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm glad you had that smell, if even for a short while.

I stuffed sheets in a big plastic ziploc bag and they held the smell for a while--but not nearly long enough.

Many hugs and prayers.
Rach

luv2run said...

It's hard! It's really hard....like Momastery says...we can do hard things! You are proof of this everyday Anna!!

Praying and thinking of you!

Hugs from a stranger!!!

luv2run

Erin said...

I believe God sends little gifts like that our way just when we need them most.

He knew you needed it.

I remember you daily in my prayers and in my quiet times.

Leslie said...

Oh Anna, I'm so sorry.

DawnGes said...

Oh shirt, shirt, shirt.

Praying for more smells to come...

Thank you, Anna.

Stimey said...

I am so glad you found the shirt if only for a short amount of time.

A Speckled Trout said...

When my husband and I were house hunting, we were in a split-level when I turned to him and said, "Oh my gosh, this smells just like my grandma's house." The realtor overheard and fell all over herself saying it might be mildew, it can be taken care of, we'll find the source......

We didn't get the house for several reasons, and the realtor didn't help matters as I believe she was about to douse the place with bleach. That smell was like my Gram coming along to help us look.

I'm glad you and Margaret got a long deep Jack smell. His scent will find its way back to you again and again. Just you wait and see.

mgh said...

I refused to do my laundry the week after Jack's accident. Until it just piled up. I kept thinking about you... and somehow knowing that even a pair of dirty inside out socks might seem a miracle.
Lots of love. And hoping that you will continue to find Jack is unexpected places.

Anonymous said...

Have you checked his winter clothes from last year? Perhaps something that was worn one last time for the season but not washed afterwards (although, you are probably more on top of things like that than I am).

At any rate, I am so happy you and Margaret had that moment of scent memory!

Peace,
Eliza

Leah C said...

A fleeting gift, but sweet nonetheless. Hugs and prayers...

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I've always wished that there would be some virtual reality invention that would allow us to close our eyes and feel our favorite memories. Like holding a sleeping baby or walking with a tiny hand in yours. I guess this is the next best thing. Now I wish that the smells in sheets and shirts could be bottled. They're far too temporary.

Also - the image of you and Margaret breathing in Jack's smell made me both happy and very, very sad.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I just want to shake you by your little blog shoulders and say stop talking! I gasped at the sweet pictures of your sweet boy on his Halloweens. Perfection. But this one? I don't understand the flippant ending; it's just not ringing true. I'm afraid you're gong to crash and regret the things you're writing. Then again, maybe these ridiculous punchlines are the one defense you have. I would just crumble.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Ann...You are so precious..Thank you for transparently sharing. I am daily lifting you before the Lord. We share many things in common...I am an army wife..and have a precious son named Jack..I often post sayings "The world according to Jack.." as he definitely marches to his own vibrant drum...and he has two sisters and their names also begin w/M:) When my husband is deployed...I sleep with his shirt under my pillow and do not change our sheets...for a soldiers wife..just never knows...I am so greatful you found Jack's Utah shirt the other day...That was the Lord whispering to you for Jack:) That was gift...There will be others:)
"For in times of trouble He shall hide me in His pavillion: In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me:
He shall set me high upon a rock." Pslam 27:5. Sweet Ann rest and nest in Him....Many are lifting you and yours up...Your right...Jack did become a missionary....:) Blessings to you today...!Melanie in NC

Anonymous said...

I've alway loved to smell my son Sam's hair when he sat on my lap, even when it was a funky one. God keep you and your family during this tribulation. And in response to your other story, heaven is indeed better than anything we could conceive and something Jack is experiencing in the warm embrace of our Father. I know his love is shining down on your family.

ALI said...

Moments like that, you just have to laugh... The alternative sucks...

I'm praying with hope you found a moment to smile through the pain.

Anonymous said...

This will seem weird, but bare with me.... I was just driving through Vienna, took a turn on Park St and thought to look for blue ribbons. Surprisingly I saw a big one on the front of a car. Nice, I thought. Turned my head back and realized it was your car. I felt like a stalker for a moment because I wanted to get out of my car and go find you and hug you! Since we've never met (but have mutual friends), I thought it might just creep you out, make you uncomfortable, etc... so I went on with my errands and and went into the Dandelion Patch. As I looked for a gift I saw a sign for a boy's room that said, "Sleep tight, Jack". Of course I said a little prayer to your Jack and remembered that those words were used at my father's eulogy since he had ALWAYS said goodnight night to me with a, "Good night. Sleep tight. God Bless." I went on to another shop and as I was paying for my purchase I saw a little necklace or something that said, "Love is the answer" and it had a bird holding up these words. Wow, I thought, that reminds me of Jack and the bird story(s). Then I thought, no, it's just a coincidence. I don't even know this family personally. THEN I looked up at the wall and read a sign that said, "Lake Anna". I smiled. Whether it was a coincidence or not, it reminded me to BE LOVING, like your son and to BE PRESENT for my child like you are. Thank you. Sending a virtual hug since I decided not to stalk you at VPC!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I am so thankful you were given that moment from God. I can only imagine the pain with joy that you felt in that moment. ((HUGS))

Jennifer Z.B. said...

Anna,
I too felt a kick in the gut over the washing of the shirt, and I know NONE of this is funny, but your ironic tone and the "Oh Shirt" made me smile. A little. And then I remembered this:
"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion"
--Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton's character) from Steel Magnolias.
You are in no way flippant. You are healthy.

I was with my grandmother the day she used up the last of my grandfather's t-shirts for dusting. She had cut his white cotton t-shirts into little dust rag squares to use as a comfort while she did housework (depression era generation=find a use for everything). It had been nearly 15 years since he died, and the rags definitely smelled like Pledge rather than him anymore (Listerene + WD40+Texas cowboy), but I was struck by how fresh the pain seemed when the little white rag just sort of fell apart in her hand. After that, she used it as a bookmark in her Bible.
Prayers for Jack-smelling God Breezes coming your way!
(((HUGS))) and love from Texas

Anonymous said...

I just want to put my arms around your shoulders—there—now other blog readers are coming up and putting their arms around you—do you feel that? I know I can’t really understand how difficult it must be. But this one? I’m that way about scents as well.

If you crumble, you crumble into His arms.

“If the sky that we look upon

should tumble and fall

Or the mountain should

crumble to the sea

I won’t cry, I won’t cry,

no I won’t shed a tear

Just as long, as you stand,

stand by me.”

L said...

Dear Anonymous,
I want to shake you by your little commenting shoulders and say "Stop reading!" This is Anna's place. Your "ridiculous punchilines" statement is a complete misreading of Anna. She does touch on the absurd in her writing, but this entire situation is absurd. I am grateful that she is processing her grief through her writing. If you are unable to handle it. Log off.

Love to you, Anna. You are amazing.

Anna's sister

Yankee, Transferred said...

His pillow. Try his pillow.

Mrs Changstein said...

Oh Anonymous of the thoughtless 8:05 am comment...I'm giving you a little poke between your commenting shoulders & asking you to shut the pie hole. Step away from the keyboard. Seriously, sister? Did you really need to say that in your outside voice?? I hope you never feel a centilla of the pain that Anna, Tim, & Margaret are feeling now. Because then, my friend, you would feel the stab of remorse. And that would somehow be even worse. And I stand behind the comment by giving my name. Cindy.

Cindy said...

To Anonymous (8:05am) - Your comment is incredibly insensitive, disrespectful, and hurtful. It angers me that your words may have caused even a little bit of pain for my dear friend, Anna. Why would you do such a thing!? Shame on you. Please stop reading her blog and please, please never comment again.

Cindy Parker

Shelby said...

I think of that shirt as manna. There will be more food for your soul. God bless you all.

Just Words On A Page said...

Anonymous said (8:05)

You don't know what you'd do because it's clear you haven't lost a child.

We all grieve differently. We all grieve on our own time table. No one has the right to tell us how to grieve, how to feel our pain, or how to express it. If Anna wanted to write a million times on her page, I miss Jack, she should be able to without you or anyone else dictating to her how she should feel.

Nothing burns my behind worse than someone telling me how or how not to feel. If you can't come here to be supportive and lift Anna and her family up then gosh don't even bother coming by.

I mean really.

Lindsay said...

To Anonymous with the 8:05 am comment--
It is SO disappointing to read your words to dear sweet Anna. None of us can possibly know her pain right now and it truly bothers me that someone would actually think they can tell her what to write on her personal blog. She is sharing her innermost thoughts with us and needs our support. Anonymous, I'm reminded of the saying, "If you can't say something nice, then PLEASE don't say anything at all!"

Sheri said...

To Anonymous (8:05):
Never in my life have I wanted more to be able to hack into a website so I could somehow delete your incredibly hurtful comment before dear Anna's eyes came upon it. This should be a safe place for Anna to come for comfort - and for those who love her and her family to show their support. Who are you to say what "rings true" to someone going through something so unimaginable? Those of us who care for her could not be more proud of her grace and honesty.

Paula said...

Anna,
Oh Shirt! indeed. I've thought so many times of a clean house and laundry done and put away for the first day of school. Just like a mother to do the laundry and throw that shirt in... I love the idea of a hat - wouldn't have thought of that.

And starting with Sister's post below ~ Well, I'm with Sister and the ladies. Love wins.

Aimee said...

Glad you and Margaret got to get a big sniff of sweet Jack! :) What a special boy he was.....

suzanne said...

I am so sorry about your son, your situation, everything. I lost my son almost 2 yrs. ago after a long illness. I miss him every day. I like what you wrote about how heaven had better be better than..because when we lose our children we lose their future as well as a part of ours. It is the hardest thing you get to live through. Shortly after Cody's death, people told me two things, one that he is in a better place..I would look at them mournfully and ask how it could be better if I am not there with him? And that time heals all wounds. I think it is more that you get used to feeling that bad. I wish I could offer you some better words of comfort, but it isn't an easy process. You get through it. You and yours are in my prayers.

A Speckled Trout said...

I read Anonymous earlier today, and hesitated to comment about a comment for fear it would end up like one of those FB political pissing matches. However, here it is the end of the day and I'm still thinking about it.

Those of us who are writers know the power of words. We weigh them, mull them over, take 'em for a test ride, erase them, start over. We understand they have the ability to hurt, heal, console, enrage, empower...... It is why we respect them and chose carefully.

I have thought of a thousand bitchy replies to this unfair crique. Instead, I'd say that the words leveled at you were written by a commenter and not a writer.

And therein lies the difference.

Anonymous said...

You are so amazing. You were able to fit a lifetime of love into your son's life. And I'm so happy that you had a fleeting moment to breathe him in again... and I'm so sorry what you and your family are going through and that there aren't enough shirts with his scent and videos of him and pictures of him in the world to ease this pain. I have to say that this blog and its vivid memories brings his spirit back. I feel like I knew him... really knew him.. whenever I read.


Sending love to you and your family... always.

Anonymous said...

Anna-
Whether intentional or not, your writing is a gift to us. Thank you for sharing your feelings, your thoughts, your grief with us. You clearly have many special friends near and far (and in cyberspace) who are lifting you up.

p.s. I've never met her, but I have read enough to know that your sister rocks!!

Anonymous said...

8:05 Anonymous....I'm guessing you've never lost a child. Whatever your problem is, you're an awful person. Or if something terrible has happened to you and you have to pick on the weaker man, then I feel sorry for you. I don't think I've ever been so disgusted. This woman just lost what was most dear to her. It makes me die inside that there are people out there with such ill intent towards another aching human being. Not to mention, I think Anna's writing is brilliant, strong, entertaining, wise, funny....you name it. Stop being a jerk and work on whatever is wrong in your own life.

vegan eden said...

I am so glad you found Jack's shirt. I often smell my kids clothes when they are off at school, so your yearning to have that opportunity resonated very deeply with me.
Your humor is an incredibly positive way of coping/functioning, and less evolved souls couldn't possibly understand such grace.
We are all deeply moved by your loss, and we come here to try and share the pain somehow, as if we could somehow transmit our intentions through cyberspace.
I think we can, I hope you know that we care deeply.
Please keep writing.

Anonymous said...

And yes, anonymous at 8:05, if you ever lose a child, I hope you remember the moment you insulted the beautiful woman that just lost hers. I wonder if you'd even feel remorse? It seems like only someone who doesn't understand that people have feelings could make such a thoughtless, insensitive remark. Clearly you do not know the love a mother has for her child.

IrishEyes said...

Anna,
I'm glad you found, smelled and then washed the shirt. Murphy's Law or something. My 12 year old is a dirtball and if you pull the dryer out from the wall, look for sucks stuck in between mattresses, boxes of packed away baby clothes or a blanket thrown in Ivory Snow may work.

On a funny note, only you, with everything you have on your plate would get a rash of emails from all of us who don't care for Anonymous 8:05. She doesn't bother me so much because its just so damn funny how YOU should write HER a "happy" blog about Jack and not one with quick wit and needed humor.

Hey Anonymous 8:05....here's my comment to you:
Bite me. Go away and pick on a blog where your opinions of editorial content will surely be addressed!

Jennifer Z.B. said...

Came back to check on sweet Anna before going to bed. Like A Speckled Trout, I too have been stewing all day re: cowardly troll, and don't usually get into pissing contests. But today, I was kicking myself for hesitating to just go ahead and piss for piss sake, but so glad to see that L had the honor of first pisser!
Lordie, I don't think I've ever written piss so many times before. But I've been pissed. Now I'm not so pissed anymore so I'm going to my bed. Where I hope nobody has pissed.
Happy to be one of Anna's Proud Pissers,
Jen

Mrs Changstein said...

Anna, I was so busy getting ticked off at & leaving my comment for 'Anon 8:05' that I forgot to tell you that I'm praying for you - you're all in my thoughts & prayers so very often. Anyone who leaves an Anonymous chicken poop comment isn't worth the stomach acid. I hope you know that. Anyhows. I'm proud to be an 'APP'ee. You know. One of the 'Anna's Proud Pissers' gang. (And I know where we can get t-shirts cheap)

L said...

I just wanted to come back and thank all of you for loving my sweet sister. For those of you who do not know her personally, she is even more amazing than you think.

Anonymous 8:05? I hope you will come back and continue to learn from Anna, grieve with her and love this family without judgment. Yeah, we were pissed, but Love Wins. You are welcome here.

For all of the pissers, I laughed and cried over your comments. Your claws coming out for Anna in love amazes and blesses me. OK not amazes - I KNOW that Anna inspires this kind of love just by who she is. My heart is full of love for each of you.

Did I mention that she is even more amazing than you think? So are Margaret and Tim.

And so is Jack.

Lindsay said...

Just wanted to say I absolutely love the words from L, Anna's sister. I'd be willing to bet Anna says you're pretty darned amazing yourself, L. What a great gift to share the bond you two truly seem to have.
Much love to you, too, L! :)

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I HATE it when Anonymous commenters give a bad name to those of us who SIGN our anonymous comments.

Anna--Great title, GREAT post. I know you guys will find more of those treasured smells somehow, some way, some day.

Anna's sister: I love you! You are such a good sister and friend to our girl. I'm so glad she has you.


love,
jbhat

K A B L O O E Y said...

Too many anonymice to keep straight, but as much as I want to tell 8:05 to mind her own business, I'm going to apply one of the many lessons I've learned from Jack via Anna and be a bigger person.

PeachPrenni said...

Oh Anna!! I'm so sorry you washed it. :( When I lost my mother in law, who I adored, I was given a big garbage bag of her clothes, and she had really great style. When I opened the bag to look inside; I was overwhelmed with the smell of her. So it became my habit to stick my head in the bag and cry. It didn't matter how cute the clothes were because I wasn't taking anything out of that bag. Well..I can tell you sadly that the smell doesn't last. I kept that bag knotted up as tight as I could, but her smell still slipped away. Not sure if that makes you feel any better, but atleast you know I get it. Love you. -Annie

PeachPrenni said...

Dear Anonymous (8:05)

Shame on you! My oh my was there some "judgment" in your comment. I truly struggle with judgmental people. I would say that I detest them but that's not very Christian. Speaking of which...are you? Because if so, here's a gentle reminder that you're NOT supposed to judge. People judge other people's clothes, cars, houses, parenting skills, etc. But judging how a mother who lost a child is processing her grief?? Really??!! Wow. That's an all time low. You have reminded me of a certain expression: "Those who are hardest to love are the ones who need it the most."
Hope you get the love you need and find your compassion.

Annie P.

Anonymous said...

I too wish you hadn't washed it. But at least you did get to find it and take his smell in at least one more time.

for a different kind of girl said...

I'm glad you got that treasure, however brief. I know it can't compare to snuggling up to your Jack, but still...