I have spent precisely two minutes in Kenley's room since I've been home. While we were in the hospital, my wonderful friends cleaned our house, neatly put away all things baby, and quietly closed the door. When I walked into my house after being discharged, it was clean and organized, and very much devoid of the stroller, high chair, and miscellaneous baby items we had strewn about the house. I knew everything was safely locked away - for the time when I was ready to see it.
It took me a solid week before I even ventured towards the door. Another day before I could touch the handle. Still yet one more day before I cracked it open to peer inside. I popped my head in, looked at the empty crib across the room, and realized I was not ready that time. Maybe tomorrow. Finally, last Thursday, I mustered every ounce of courage I still had in my broken heart and went all the way in. I walked in with my eyes scrunched shut. I stood in the center of the room for a good twenty seconds, eyes closed. Breathing slowly. Focused. Ready. I opened my eyes to a beautiful and painful sight. The sunlight streamed in through the windows, casting golden rays against the light green walls. (Sherwin Williams, Parakeet) Her crib lay empty beside me, the mattress covered neatly with a tight, blue floral sheet. Her birdie mobile stood a silent watch over the side. The rocking chair I had so lovingly refinished last summer sat in the corner, a pink blanket a parent from school knitted for me strewn over the white, wooden arm. All of the owl stuffed animals and pillows that had been given to me peered at me in sympathy from atop her dresser. The magnetic chalkboard we painted on her wall still had "Kenley" spelled out in refrigerator letters. What a wonderful room. A room any little girl would love.
I opened one of her dresser drawers and pulled out a tiny green and white striped pair of shorts - the kind you'd pair with a onesie. They had two rows of ruffles on the backside. As soon as I held them in my hands, my eyes filled to the brim. Through blurry vision, I tucked them back in with the rest of the clothes she'd never wear. I glanced down to see the plaster hand and footprints the hospital made for me. Her tiny hand, the fingers spread wide, appeared to reach up towards me. I traced the outline of both imprints. "Mama misses you, little one", I whispered. And then, I had to go. It was enough. It took all of 120 seconds, but it was enough. For now.
It's not that I don't want to go in there. I do. It's so hard to be in there, the room where she should be but is not. The room that held so much excitement and promise. The room we worked so hard to get ready. The room we poured our love into. Now, it sits empty. Like my arms. Like my heart.
I'll go in there more and more - and it will get easier. Everything does with effort - and time. I just wish there was a fast forward button on life. Or better yet - a rewind.