I cut Brooklyn’s hair.
When she passed, I wanted something physical to touch.
But when Jayden passed, his hair was short, so I kept a few of his last fingernail clippings and an eyelash that had fallen onto his cheek. It’s in a drawer next to his his bed-right next to some cards we received, a beautiful rock with his name on it, and a tag from a pug toy Ellie and I found shopping one day that said “JJ.” I know. Nail clippings? Gross.
Weird, a bit creepy, and gross.
Well, maybe not to those of us who have lost a loved one. Or had a child and kept their first tooth. Or to a grown woman who still sleeps with a blankie.
We are physical beings who naturally gravitate towards physical reminders. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about earth. There are glimpses of God all around. Hints in seasons, and the created, refections in the people we meet. In the Words He left for us on a page, truths He is still speaking, and wonders for us to still uncover.
After J and B passed, their space and things become a bit more precious, sacred even. I don’t let people into those spaces much for that reason. But a few nights ago, I did. Two dear friends were over and it just felt right to show them Jayden’s clippings and eyelash, delicately wrapped in a tear soaked Kleenex in the drawer.
They let me guide them into the space. They cried for me. They didn’t talk, they just went with me into the holy temple of mourning. They didn’t throw Bible verses at me, even though they are two of the holiest women I know. And, they didn’t make jokes to ease the tension. They just held it silently for me and let me lead.
A few weeks later, they came up to me with a gift: little plastic ziplock bags. “To keep your reminders safe. You know, so you don’t lose what’s in that Kleenex.” It was one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received. The bags, sure, but even more, that they saw me, sat with me, and said my lament was “good.”