Monday, September 22, 2014


What does an 8 year old leave behind?
Not so much.
Some art projects.
Some school work.
A few beloved toys and blankets.
And a dresser full of clothes.

Many many people sent Sam t-shirts that really helped to bring him joy. He had a great collection. A lot of Superman shirts, as you'd imagine, but also quite a few others with logos, sayings, and other fun things. He had so many favorites.

He also had a really world-class collection of pajama bottoms and sweatpants, the staples of a kid in the hospital. 

We have a very small house, and my kids share rooms. We've rotated and nearly everyone has shared with everyone else throughout their lives. We've switched beds and dressers, closets and bins. 

Sam's dresser has stood in the room that he shared with David, filled with his clothes. Solly figured out where they were, and he has regularly grabbed pajamas from Sammy's drawer. 

Solly needed a new dresser. He was using a very small bedside table as his dresser and it just wasn't big enough. In a quiet moment in the house, all alone, I walked into that room and opened Sam's dresser. I ran my hands over the clothes. I thought about how many times I had washed them, held them, folded them...and how many times I had hugged or kissed or touched Sammy while he was wearing those clothes. I knew that it didn't matter where these clothes were, and I knew that it would be both hard and beautiful to see them on my other children. And I knew that this dresser was probably the right one for Solly.

I started with Michael. "We need a dresser for Solly. We can either buy a new one or....empty out Sam's and give it to him. What do you think?' Michael considered and pointed out that it was just stuff. It wouldn't ever bring Sam back. So true and profoundly sad.

Then I went to David. "How do you feel if I move that dresser out of here?"
"Can I get a desk?" he asked.
Sigh. I guess he was ready.

Then I went to Yael and Solly. "We're going to move Sammy's dresser in here for Solly."
Yael: "Can I help you take all the clothes out?"
Solly: "Yay!"

Well... that went well.

Yael insisted on helping me.
She wanted to keep many of the clothes.
She wanted to wear them.
Some weren't the right size so we saved them in a bin for later.
Some were right for Solly now.

And then we moved the dresser.

Now she wears his pajamas and his shirts. Unlike Solly, who has been wearing them since Sam died, she hasn't wanted to. Now she wears them too.

I hug my children every day. All the time.
But when they wear Sam's clothes I hug them a little tighter. A little extra.
Like I'm giving him a hug too....

Yael's chosen outfit on the first day of Sunday School
I don't have a pic nearby but this is currently one of Solly's favorite shirts

Those are Sammy's pajama tops and bottoms. Those pants that Yael is wearing were one of his faves.

Solly's very favorite shirt. It says Sam in the corner. I don't even know who had it made for him...Sam loved it. Solly loves it.


  1. Oh my goodness, your beautiful children. Beautiful in assiyah / the physical world, of course, but especially in yetzirah / emotion and atzilut / spirit. Seeing Yael's chosen outfit for the first day of Sunday school made me a little bit teary.

    I love that they love wearing things which were Sam's. I know there's heartbreak in it for you and Michael, but there's heartbreak lurking around every corner, I suspect. Here at least the bitter might be mixed with some sweet -- seeing your beautiful kids remembering their brother with love.

  2. Sending love. You are ever in our hearts.

  3. Phyllis, I've been reading your blog since the beginning and I've not commented before - I was Karen Leeds' camper in the arly 1990s. Maybe when Yael and Solly outgrow Sammy's clothes, you could have some of the special ones made into a quilt. You will be able to hang on to the memories with something tangible, but will also be able to clear some drawers for new ones. Sending love at this time of renewal - l'shanah tovah.

  4. I was thinking the exact same thing as Annie Altman. When looking for ideas for a special quilt for my daughter's dorm, I came across an idea for turning favorite t-shirts and other items of clothing into a memory quilt. The quilt can hug, and be hugged right back.

    Sending warm thoughts.

  5. Your children are so wonderful. They are building new memories for the clothes and helping to remember Sammy and keep him "alive.'.

  6. Sammy--one size fits all. He's hugging us all, in his clothes, in your blog.

  7. So beautiful and touching, he lives on in so many ways.

  8. I was wondering if I can contact you. I am a rabbi in Los Angeles. ~Nicole Guzik at