May 13, 2011

They Smell Like My Past



I went back to work yesterday for the first time since March 24. I didn’t really feel like going back to work, it was just that we thought it might be a nice distraction. Normally this would be quite the break, the kind of prolonged vacation only reserved for long trips or a new baby. Or a dead baby, come to find out.

I dug out my tattered jeans from the bottom drawer and slowly slipped into them, trying to avoid putting my feet through the holes in the knees. I snagged my t-shirt and pulled it over my head. Since I was planning on working the day after The Day, neither article had been washed. They smelled of sawdust and sandpaper and the rich odors of reclaimed wood and it just about killed me to realize they were, perhaps, the last tangible reminder of my former life. I remember walking home from work that day. I remember placing the clothes in the drawer and getting in the shower. I remember how excited I was for Stella to get up from her nap, to hear her say “no night night time daddy.” I remember the sweet taste of anticipation, the kind that seems to build exponentially from week 37 on. For we were having a baby girl and Stella was having a sister and we were going to be a family of four.

There are other reminders of our former lives. I look at pictures from the month before and the days before and I can see the anticipation, the happiness oozing forth in every shot. Me kissing Kari sheepishly over pizza with a friend, us holding our dear friends new baby, Kari and Stella laying together in the rocker. Or I remember events like parties with friends or moving or trips around the world or getting married and all I can think about is how innocent we were. But these clothes, this ridiculous work outfit, it's like I can physically touch and smell my past.

I practically choke on the smell. Tears burst forth as a desperate longing to rewind takes over my whole body.

This is the lay of the land these days; trying to live while never forgetting. Wake up, think of Margot. Go to bed, glad to tick off another day. Play with Stella, wish Margot was here. Eat dinner, cry over Margot. Laugh with friends, hope to get pregnant.

Go to work, remember your former life.

7 comments:

Amanda said...

Once again, Josh, I'm just hanging on your words. I seem to recall smell being the strongest memory trigger of all the senses.

There's no going back now, but I hope for a peace-filled journey on.

Anonymous said...

One of the most powerful things I've read. Write, Josh. Don't stop.

Anonymous said...

Yes, keep writing! You are amazing in your ability to be SO REAL! I find your words comforting as I try to imagine dealing with the deep sorrow that you have known.

Jim and Jaena said...

I have read you blog for months. Well, actually years, now that I think about it. Your trip around the world, Stella's birth, and now the loss of sweet Margot. You have such a gift for writing, Josh: capturing and expressing the emotions of your journey. My throat tightens and tears well up as I read...grieving for you and with you, even though I don't know you well. I am so very sorry for your loss. I wish I could say more, but that's all I know to say.

kjackson_la said...

Thanks for your kind words and continued support. They go a long way these days.

BTW - this post was taken down yesterday and deleted along with the first few comments. I'm still not sure why...

glo said...

Blogger was a mess for like late Thurs and Friday.

Hugs and prayers continue for you and your family.

Martina Tran said...

When I stumbled upon this post of yours, the beauty and simplicity of the words took my breath away. And, it caused me to want to read more, because it expressed so much loss and pain, though I didn't know the full story. So I proceeded reading downward, ever downward, past each new blog post, going one by one back to that day on March 24th when you innocently and with mundane satisfaction blogged about finishing a photo and patches project about your travels abroad, and I learned more and more about what happened to your beautiful little family, and it broke my heart. That was a hard way to find out, backwards like that, with each old detail being revealed to me newly, while all the time, my mind was racing to put the puzzle pieces together.

I'm sure you've heard all the words of condolence and support that were ever created for what you've been through, as well as praise for how you're struggling to remain, and how you've beautifully captured your thoughts and feelings during such an overwhelming time. I would like to add my message to the chorus. But, also, Josh, I would like to tell you that your writing has moved me to tears and for this short period on this one afternoon, I felt immensely connected to you and your family just because I witnessed your pain through these words and photos. Thank you for that, for sharing something so deep of yourself with a stranger.

I wish you all luck, and know that with the great love you share, you'll all be fine.

Yours sincerely,
Martina Tran
Oakland, CA

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