by Kim Perlmutter

As the cleaning, clearing away and releasing of objects phase of this
grief is continuing….

I just woke up at 4:30 am and could not go back to sleep.  I gave up
and went to brush my own teeth and it hit me to clean out the bathroom
cupboards below the counter on Joseph’s side and his shelf in the
medicine chest.  It is surreal that the Spiderman bath bubbles, the
Power Ranger, Batman and Spiderman toothbrushes are more reminders of
silly, child centered themes. Yes, even have their own story of the
routines in the daily habit of brushing teeth…with the alphabet ball
playing songs to encourage this longer brushing habit holding the
attention span just a little easier with a built in fun distraction…

The baths…oh the baths!!! I still think about them almost nightly
even now as it is dinnertime instead of bath time. Every night at 7 pm
since you were a baby…..the baths were such a special routine at the
end of the day.  There was so much in every toy that because you were
only one child. I did not rush as a mommy to make this a little part of
the end of the day wind down and special to end the day calmly.  There
was hundreds of giggles using the Gymboree bubbles blown on your tummy
and filling the warm room with millions of bubbles….. and the
alphabet letters were tossed into the basket as you uncovered one by
one in the bubbles and shouted out the letter and made a basket with it
if you got it correct….the silly stick on animals that were fun
colorful sharks, turtles, whales, scuba man, frogs, and treasure chest
to hide things in and go looking for with the googles on to practice
swimming in between keeping your face in the water.

The rubber torpedoes that skimmed under the water line and BONKED into
the side and cracked you up every time bomeranging if you hit it just
right on the side of the tub and it bonked into your foot…..

There were more toys than room for you collected over the years. But we
rotated them out and only could have as many as fit into the green mesh
bag…..the bag that held the scoops to stir the soup you made that was
“delicious” mommy “taste” it…..of course it was pretend soup but always
something was cooking in here.

Collection of yellow duckies — even one with sunglasses on was the
cool duckie, and some were sisters ducks from their childhood.

The water spout cover to protect your head.

The pitcher to pour the water over your head to rinse the shampoo out
of your hair.

The memories of “sudsy up the privates, colonels and generals” that
you were so coordinated to do yourself. We laughed every time I said it
– time to wash your privates and colonels. This always had you in

Oh there was the line of toys that you could manage to leave on the
side of the tub and climb over and not move until the next bath….this
is still in my head how you loved to keep them out on the ledge and
look at throughout the day waiting to play again later.  Sometimes we
had a few go on vacation.
The squirt guns that you decided I was a better target than the toys in
the water!  I had to duck behind the towel to barely be able to stay
relatively dry.  Oh the giggles to my memories are so strong…..

The potty training seat is long gone now.  But the memories of the
toilet paper is now sitting in my mind forever when I gave you privacy
and you were having more fun unrolling the paper and it was hysterical
to discover it all over the room and instead of getting mad I ran and
got the camera cracking us both up because it was too funny to not
laugh until I cried that out of sight you were always up to something!

The stool to sit on, stand on and have a function for all of us using
this room.  I picture the mornings Hannah was getting ready for high
school and you were in the bathroom sitting on the stool drinking your
sippy or talking to her in between drinks and she is barely awake but
loves the company in the routine of you following her back and forth
until she is dressed and ready for getting her lunch together for
school day.  You talked and talked and she was hardly awake most
mornings…..It cracked me up to over hear on the monitor what you were
sharing out loud and observing her makeup and how to wear her hair that
day, up, down, or in a headband…

The gorgeous vase of shells we collected on our family beach vacations.
Bringing home to add to the vase each and every trip…the beautiful
shells we loved to find and decide should be home or leave here, not
that great….the nights you would ask to have me bring it down to look
at the shells from the glass to see them close up.

The kneeling pad from Target that is a garden pad but was a great idea
to help my old knees not be hurting when I was washing your hair.  Oh
how you loved to sit on it and pretend it was a surf board….I used to
get worried you would crack your head on the tub when you decided you
could balance on it.

What to keep is no longer as hard as how can this be really over?  It
is not over in my heart but your being gone this long has been easier
for me to accept… is time to toss more out and give away and
leave the room empty since there is no little boy here.

The new bottles of sunscreen for Kids, not babies skin. The spray
bottle still has “Joey” on the bottle from the preschool supply. The
baby powder that still reminds me of the diaper days….there are such
tangible memories in this bathroom like all the others in our home.
Joseph should have out grown these silly tangibles and tossed them out
himself….  I wonder to myself when do little boys stop buying silly
handle tooth brush?  I have no clue unless I ask my old mommy friends
with 7 and 8 year olds?

The thermometers for the ear – still beep and light up.  It is eerie
these have not died in the drawer after 2 1/2 years.

The medicine spoons that made the slurping so much easier…

The glass cases with the return address label on the case.  Can we find
him and return him home as simple as it would of been had a pair of
glasses been misplaced or lost? I know the answer is as rhetorical as
the question.

It is surreal how organized and efficient and neat and everything had a
space to make it easy to do now is not so easy to undo.

I cannot articulate the need for still keeping a small stash under the
drawer in the travel canvas bag seems ok for a little while longer. We
just returned from Grandma’s house and I really did think about the
blue canvas case was missing in the bathroom at her house where it
would have been with Joey’s bathroom stuff.

I cannot decide how to know when to toss the first hair brush, and some
of the other “too hard” to part with reminders of daily living with my
little boy’s hygiene that was instilled by his conscious mommy wanting
him to have good teeth his whole life.  Floss stick with Buzz Lightyear
characters to keep his interest in doing this not so fun to remember

Thank you for letting me have a safe place to shed the tears, share the
list of bathroom possessions that are more letting go of the child
centered space in the kids bathroom that has no little boy up and ready
to make it a great day today….
with love, Kim

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Abel Keogh

Abel Keogh

Abel is the author of the relationship guides Dating a Widower: Starting a Relationship with a Man Who's Starting Over and Marrying a Widower: What You Need to Know Before Tying the Knot as well as several other books. During the day, Abel works in corporate marketing for a technology company. His main responsibilities include making computers and software sound super sexy, coding websites, and herding cats. Abel and his wife live somewhere in the beautiful state of Utah and, as citizens of the Beehive State, are parents of the requisite five children.

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