My heart was racing, my hands shaking, as I carefully took the shadow box off the wall. One by one, I took down my children’s keepsakes, some of the only tangible items of my son and daughter who are no longer alive.
Abby, Peyton, Parker.
Those three shadowboxes have been a staple of our nursery ever since our lone survivor came home from the NICU. The bright, yellow trim complemented the grey walls, a gender-neutral room my husband and I chose when we learned we were expecting two identical girls and a boy.
But life didn’t go as planned. And these are some of the few things we were left with. When our surviving triplet came home after nearly four months in the NICU, we wanted all three of our children to have a presence in her room.
Each box contains little mementos, the few memories of our babies that will have to last a lifetime. A blood pressure cuff, small enough to wrap around a one-pound baby. A tiny bow tie and a yarn bow, a doll outfit, the perfect size for our survivor’s first outfit. And an elephant sleeper, the last thing my son wore before he passed away in our arms.
Those three shadowboxes were never meant to be hanging in that room this long. Years ago when our rainbow baby was born, she moved into the nursery as our miracle child moved down the hall.
I wasn’t hanging onto the memories, I wasn’t dwelling on the past. To be honest, life got busy and I just never got around to changing décor.
So here we are now, nearly 28 months later, and I’m sitting on the ground in my toddler’s room, sobbing as I look at these keepsakes. We recently picked out new artwork for my 2-year-old’s room, various shades of pink dancing together in a special, sentimental new look.
I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to say goodbye to our past, the physical proof that I am a mother to triplets. As I moved each shadowbox to our guest room, so many memories flashed before my eyes. The moments of holding each triplet for the very first time, the day when we walked into the nursery with our NICU graduate. All of those sweet moments, even the tragic ones, wrapping my heart.
I’m not sure where I’ll put those three precious shadowboxes, but as I look at my toddler’s redesigned room, a smile takes over the tears. It’s a perfect fit for my sassy child. And while we will never move on from child loss, our family has found a beautiful way to move forward over the years. And through it all, we are a family of six.