I did something this week that I've managed to put off for four years, since Daisy died.
I cleaned out our medicine cupboard.
Sherby suggested I might like to get onto it while he headed off to work and so I allowed myself time to grumble about that and then wondered whether he might not have coped with doing it either. But it needed doing. Daisy's whole life was just about tucked up in those cupboards above the fridge and every time one of us opened it to get Ruby's meds out we'd risk an avalanche. But it was something that I found so difficult to even think about so it was just easier to cram the doors shut twice a day.
I was talking to one of her doctors during the week and said that this was one of the hardest things for me and something that I've dreaded doing, and it's taken so long for me to get my head around. It took months before I was able to put away the beautiful clothes that Daisy wore and her special blankets and things and we managed to give back her water chair and wheelchair and the oxygen concentrator and feeding pump, all those things that made her life easier, even though those things were really hard to do. I really don't know why I couldn't have done this back then too. Maybe it's just another long step in saying goodbye.
So I waited for Clementine's daytime sleep and took a deep breath, then burst into tears and cried my way through it. Sobbed actually. In many ways it was really cathartic but in so many more, it was just really heartbreaking.
I think now I just find it very hard to believe that one little girl could have needed so many medications for so many things and not be healed from any of them. Or even survive. I was staring at all these notes I'd written and just can't imagine how any of us got through that period. At once stage I was giving Daisy 12 meds and Ruby 8 per day. No wonder my brain is now mush.
And all her feeding tubes which broke my heart on a daily basis because the dear little thing just couldn't tolerate anything, even when fed with a PEG; those things I couldn't get rid of, they were so much a part of her. So I didn't get rid of any of them, I just tidied everything up and packed it all neatly back into a box and tucked it in the back of the cupboard. That way I don't see it if I don't want to. And we don't get smacked on the head when we open the cupboard either.
I don't know, grief is just so hard. Who knows if that's the right thing to do or not. As her doctor said, she's gone now and looking through her meds won't bring her back. But I think for me, I want to hold onto those things still, for as long as I need to. Just to remind myself of who we were back then and why we needed them, and to show Felix who finds it so hard to remember that part of our lives with his beautiful baby sister he loved so much. I do feel better for having done it. And I know she's not tucked up in that cupboard, of course she's not. She's where she always was, right here with me.
Just look at her, precious little thing. I just want to grab her and smooge those cheeks which look so healthy here. I keep this photo on the fridge. It was taken when she was around 16 months old and we were staying at Bear Cottage, the children's palliative hospice in Manly. I'd taken Ruby down to the pharmacy to get antibiotics for her ears and came back to find Daisy blossom's face painted. Once I'd gotten over the shock I got out the camera and took photos for her father, I just loved that they'd thought of painting her all up in daisies. She'd slept through the whole thing of course.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could sometimes step through a photo, to go back to a time or a place and be together again? If I could I just wouldn't let her go.
This old hymn was going through my head while my head was in that cupboard:
Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain...
Be still my soul, thy best thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
- and trust trust trust. There has to be a rhyme and reason.