Friday, August 24, 2007

If these walls could talk

We had company on Wednesday night-- the family of one of Monkey's classmates. Hannah, the little girl, came up to Monkey at one of those summer events, and then I spent the rest of that event talking to her dad. The girls asked for a playdate, and so after some emailing, there they were, at our house. They are a very nice family, and I hope the girls get to be friends (they say they already are), and I wouldn't mind getting to know the parents closer too. Heck, even though it was the BFN day, and I was glum and grumpy for most of it, I not only had fun while they were there, but I also felt better even after they left. Which is saying something because...

Hannah is the only future classmate of Monkey's who doesn't yet have living siblings. I say "yet" because I think mom is pregnant. She wore a loose-fitting shirt, but at some point we were standing around looking at the computer screen (yes, nerds, freely admitted), and she rubbed her belly in that absent-minded way pregnant women have, that absent-minded way that gave me away last fall to some friends. I would guess she is about 4 months along. If I am right (and JD thinks I am right), than it is pretty unavoidable that at some point the girls will talk about babies in tummies and how some of them don't make it.

Lori wrote a lovely post recently, about the photo albums that record the life of her family, and that most significant of gaps in the album from the year that changed everything. As I told Lori in the comments, our photo albums are not nearly that organized. But it was that post I was thinking of on Wednesday as we gave our guests a house tour. Monkey's drawing of our family as it should've been, the one she started while her brother was still alive, but finished after he had died, the one she said I couldn't take because she would finish it so we can hang it on the wall in his memory, that drawing is in fact on the wall, right as you come up the stairs. Hannah's mom looked at it and asked who drew it. I told her it was Monkey, but didn't volunteer anything else. I wonder, though, whether she knew. In the "small world" category, a co-worker of mine, S, is a good friend of theirs, the fact that we figured out at that school event where I also mentioned that I had a tough year and am taking it easy job-wise this year. I wonder whether they talked to S...

A's room, too, is a strange ghost-- in a house that is not exactly sparsely decorated, it is at once indulgent and spartan, brimming with life and echoing with silence, frozen in a state rooms don't usually stick to for more than a couple of weeks. You see, my dad finished re-painting it, lovely shades of yellow and light blue, not too dull and not too bright, exactly a week before A died. It is these colors that make it indulgent and alive. The other side of the room's vibe is due to its furnishings, or lack thereof. The crib never made it down from the attic, so the only furniture in that room is the dresser that doubles as a changing table, a narrow shelving thingie from I.KEA and a single bookshelf on the wall.

I've had to work hard to reclaim that room, to be able to walk in and out as needed, to just have its door open. It took JD a very long time, much longer than me. But on Wednesday I found myself in that room with our guests, talking about a literacy system for the Old Country language that JD put in that room when he was cleaning. Notably, not talking about why there is an obviously freshly-painted unoccupied kid room in my house. And I was OK.

I still am. I just wonder whether it is obvious to others that my house speaks of love and loss, of big dreams, shattered dreams. I wonder whether my house is as articulate to other people as it seems to me.

7 comments:

niobe said...

If my walls could talk, I still don't think they actually would. No-one visiting my house would ever know that, once, we expected to have two cribs in the junk room on the third floor. Unless I told them. And I can't imagine doing that.

Your attitude is, I think, probably a healthier one.

Beruriah said...

If she didn't know, she probably at least has an inkling now. Glad you enjoyed yourself a bit - and that Monkey has a friend at her new school.

No baby's room for us to avoid - Natan would have lived in our room first then the living room.

meg said...

I moved across the city, because I couldn't stand the memories wrapped up in our old house. That being said, we didn't have anything for any of the babies we thought we'd get to bring home. I was entirely too paranoid. I wonder, now, if that was the right thing to do?

I'm sure your blue and yellow room must be difficult to live with, but honestly, even though I had no nursery, there were memories everywhere. And now I'm in a new house, but there are still ghosts of what should have been...here. It's still a house of loss, despite no losses occurring here.

I have a post brewing about some of this stuff right now--after this, I'm going to go write it. It's strange you wrote about this today, when it's been on my mind so much!

slouching mom said...

This may be of some comfort if it's important to you to have your privacy...

When we moved in to a new house when Ben was a toddler, we expected to have another child, but I was not yet pregnant. So we painted one bedroom a pale, apple green and stuck Ben's old crib in it. That was all that was in it -- a crib, and green walls.

It took longer than we expected for me to get pregnant again, so that room stayed just like that for, oh, maybe eighteen months.

There could be other explanations for an empty nursery, is what I'm trying to say in my long-winded way.

Rosepetal said...

I have not reclaimed V's room, more than a year later. It took me 11 months to pack up the cot but his cupboard is still there with all of his clothes, the curtains with jungle animals my mother made are hanging up, the lampshade shaped like a hotair balloon complete with basket and cuddly toy - all still there. It has begun to double a junk and ironing board room which bugs me a bit. Oh, and the two urns for A and V are in there on the changing table. Sigh

Lori said...

I often think about the small ways our home tells our story, including our losses, and I too wonder if others see what I see.

If nothing else, I would guess that woman might suspect there is more to your family story than meets the eye. Sometimes, for me, that's enough.

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