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Monday, January 18, 2021

Grief and physical artifacts

I opened a tiny ziplock bag today and rubbed a tiny bundle of Riley’s hair against my face. I inhaled deeply and hoped to find his scent. It wasn’t there. I then pondered how I could fasten the clump of blond strands to my own hair. I thought I might be able to attach it to a barrette or a bobby pin. A blond streak in my brown tresses. The only physical things I have from him are these little bundles of hair tied with ribbons and a collection of baby teeth. Whenever I get these little bags of hair out of my box of special things, I am reminded of that fact. Hair and teeth are the only physical artifacts from his body and this life. I suppose there is also the box of his ashes that lives on a shelf in his bedroom. But the ashes are unrecognizable. I can’t look at the ashes and see him. But the hair -- his bright yellow hair -- is seen in all of the pictures I have. And the teeth are in those photos, too. At least in the photos when he let his guard down and smiled without caution. Smiled with teeth. And then with this reminder that there are the only bits of my son, my mind whirs and sputters as it tries to make sense of his physical absence from his clothes, his bed, his room, the dining table, our car, his shoes, the couch, my arms. 

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