Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy & President of The Isabella Santos Foundation
Why we haven’t touched it…
She barely lived in it. It’s been vacant for 3 years now. I remember her helping paint the walls pink and purple stripes. The rollers were so big she could barely hold them up. She got her new white furniture with a side table, dresser and desk for all that homework that she had planned to do. Truth is, I can barely remember her sleeping in there. So many times she would end up in our bed due to sickness or if Stuart was traveling, not to mention all the nights in the hospital. If she slept in there one hundred nights I would be surprised.
But the room is all her. Her pajamas are still in the drawers, her dresses still hang in the closet and her shoes are still waiting to be worn. Her dresser is covered with pictures of her best friends, her family and “get well soon” cards from classmates. The bookshelves have her library books that I’m sure the Elementary school as decided not to ask for. Her desk is filled with drawings and notes that were never finished. There are beaded necklaces that we made in the hospital, seashells she collected, diaries with kittens on them and Taylor Swift CDs in every drawer you open. I have still not gone through it all because I’m always afraid of what I will find. Last year I found a Mother’s Day craft she made me at school just a month before she died that she never gave to me. That is when I just decided to close things up for awhile.
There are books out there for everything these days when it deals with children. “What to expect when you are expecting” was supposed to be the roadmap for pregnancy to follow. Where is the book on “What to expect when you aren’t expecting?” Where is the manual for parents on how to deal with things like this? I need a roadmap and here are some things I need to know…
1. What do I do with her clothes and when do I start to actually do something with them? Do I make her clothes into blankets and give them to people? Is that creepy?
2. What do I keep and what is junk? Do I keep everything that she ever wrote on? If I throw it away will I regret I did that?
3. How long do I keep this room going like this? Am I supposed to have a little girl’s twin bed in there forever?
4. If I make her room something else, what do I do with it? If I make it into another guest bedroom will people be wigged out sleeping in there? Feels even more disrespectful to make it into an office or something.
5. What do I do with her furniture? Is that another thing I will get rid of and then regret I got rid of it? I keep finding places on her furniture that she actually wrote her name on. Seriously?
6. Do I put her stuff in storage?
7. When do I do all of this? At what point is it okay to have her room still the same, and at what point does it become creepy? When will people start saying, “I think it’s time they did something with that room.” I definitely want to do something with it before that conversation starts happening.
All these counselors will tell you that this stuff should be done whenever you are ready. There is no timeframe that should occur. But there has got to be. There is definitely a line out there in the universe that you cross too soon or too late. It still feels too soon to me because every season I think I can tackle clothing and I just crumble. But, I know it all can’t stay like that forever. It eventually will need to be tackled, just not sure on the rules for this stuff.