Friday, August 1, 2014

Sticks and Steps

On November 12th, we got a new minivan.

Michael went to get the new car while I took Sam to the hospital for what we thought was a routine biopsy. Until it wasn't. It was a pretty awful day and we probably wouldn't have done the car thing that day if we'd realized what was going to happen. did. And so we had a new car.

The old minivan had a little series of people on the back. Before they were on every car around town, I thought the idea was adorable. I waited until Yael was born and special-ordered our then-family-of-five in stick figures. When Solly was born, four years later, I added on one more little person.

The old minivan had our family of six permanently stuck to the back of the car.

I think often about that old minivan. How grateful I am that I don't have to see those little stick people any more, knowing that they would probably be a painful reminder. And yet I miss them terribly. I miss all that they represent.

I'm so reluctant to number things or name things now. When we're counting out plates for dinner or chairs for the table..."so there's five of us tonight," I might say. I'm not in denial. But I still can't quite believe that it's permanent...forever.

There are two stepstools in our bathroom. One of them spent a lot of time at the hospital. From the beginning, Sammy wasn't tall enough to reach the sink or comfortably sit on the toilet. So we brought a stepstool from home. After the first round of hospitalization, we forgot it at the hospital. They kindly wrote his name on it in big letters (with a smiley face) and saved it for us for our next admission.

His name is still on the stepstool.

Solly calls it the Sammy stool. The sharpie is fading away, after repeated bleach-wipings and regular use. But his name is still on the stepstool.
Solly, wearing Sammy's PJs....
His clothes are still in the dresser.
His artwork is still clipped to the display-line in the kitchen.
His presence is all around us.
I wish it helped me miss him less.


  1. I just typed a long comment and I think the internet ate it. My apologies if this posts twice...

    I wish there were a way to ease your sorrow.

    As I struggle with the illness of a loved one, I am thinking of Sammy all the time. The drip of noxious chemicals, the side effects, and all I can think is: Sammy went through this too. And then I think: my loved one is an adult, at least -- and then I weep for my loved one and for Sammy and for y'all and sometimes it feels as though I might never stop.

  2. The Sammy stool. His stature grows as he keeps re-forming our life; see him on a "petal stool," as one of my more innocent students misspelled 'pedestal.'

  3. All this keeps him alive. Yes, the soul is alive. Just his body is dead.