September 6, 2004

// November 30th, 2010 // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Today I set up a “stamping station” in the spare bedroom. While a young friend had been staying in the room, I employed the den closet to store and use my card making supplies. Now that the small spare bedroom has been vacated it will be the perfect place for our crafts.
Seeing that I needed something to store my stamp sets in I decided on the plastic chest of drawers Steve had kept by his bedside. I grabbed it and the box of his things from the storage room and pulled them into the room that had been Steve’s childhood bedroom. Quietly pulling Steve’s things from the drawers, touching things he had touched, I shed no tears. I was even able to smile at some of the memories held within.

In the top drawer I found a stack of photos. Nic, Chris, and Annette smiled at me as they once smiled at Steve. How many times had Steve fingered these same photographs? I added them to the box.
Tucked behind the pictures were mementos from a night at Boomers where he, Nick, and Robyn spent three hours and about $100 playing games and accumulating more than 5,000 tickets. They came home that night high on fun, laughing and tripping over each other to be the first through the front door, arms full of booty. Among their treasures were two lava lamps, plastic hand held games, noise-makers, small high-bounce balls, and three small putty filled toilet-shaped containers. As soon as they burst into the living room, dumping most of their new toys onto the coffee table, they simultaneously flipped up the lids of the tiny toilets. Pressing the putty with their fingers they filled the room with disgusting, socially unacceptable sounds. In their best dramatic farce they made the facial expressions and body movements to go along with the noises. Their unabashed laughter was contagious!
I opened the lid of the toy toilet I found in Steve’s drawer. The putty had long since dried and stuck to the sides, but memories of that night brought a fresh smile to my face.

In the next drawer were things he needed to keep nearby ~ insulin syringes, alcohol and Betadine wipes, and clips to open the dialysis solution packages. Most of these I was finally able to throw out today. Their dates have expired and they only serve to remind me of the sick Steve. I’d rather have mementos of the healthy, fun Steve.

The bottom drawer was stuffed full of packages of gauze (large rolls, 4×4 squares, and 2×2 squares) and ointments. All for the daily dressing changes he needed to keep the head wound clean and protected.
That head wound seemed to be the only part of Steve that was working right. Only what was happening wasn’t exactly “right”. After the surgery to remove a tenacious infection from Steve’s scalp, his surgeon told us that the only way to repair the 4×5 inch open wound would be by stretching his scalp slowly until the edges would meet, and then to suture them together. It would be a long and painfull process. At the first post op appointment Dr. Kadesky noticed that there was new skin growing along the suture lines of Steve’s skull. He was amazed and told us that this was just didn’t happen! He gave us some special ointment and covering to use every day to encourage the growth. By the time Steve died seven months after the surgery new skin covered more than three quarters of the opening. At each appointment the doctor took pictures of Steve’s progress. These pictures were tucked into the drawer with the bandages. I opened the small photo album to look at them again. For the first time my eyes remained dry as my finger traced the edges of Steve’s open scalp.

I finished carefully packing these memories into the box with Steve’s few possessions, and put it on the shelf in place of the drawers. I returned to our new Craft Room without a dark cloud over me and organized the supplies, anticipating fun times with my kids and grandkids.

I’ve been meditating at least once a day. It’s still very relaxing, though I haven’t had another experience quite as profound as the first waterfall experience. I do continue to pass through the waters and feel refreshed.

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