Mom's Pajamas

Megan spent a lot of time in her pajamas.  It kind of came with the territory, spending so much time in the hospital.  When she was home, she often wasn't nearly at 100%, so being in her pajamas was comfortable, warm, and easy.  If there was no need to been seen in public, she figured, why get all dressed up and ready? Pajamas made sense.

She was tiny.  Five feet, three inches, and at her absolute heaviest (after a double lung transplant and a lot of steroids) she was able to crack 110 pounds.  She spent more of the time in the sub-100 pound range. Still, she wore those same big baggy pajamas.

In the final year of her life, she struggled to keep 80 pounds on her frame.  Those pajamas fit her in a very specific way. The waistband was tight enough, but the flannel fabric draped off of her like curtains.  Her accompanying t-shirt seemed far, far too large, with the sleeves actually hanging down to her elbows.

When I eventually got around to clearing out some of her clothes after her death, I don’t know exactly why I kept some of her pajamas.  It may have been a small feeling of comfort in knowing that the things she wore so much weren’t just going away. Possibly, it felt a bit wasteful, knowing that they were so “broken in” that even a thrift store wouldn’t take them.

Mostly though, I imagine there was a lot of “oh, Shelby can wear these someday”

It’s now someday.

Shelby was 8 when I had those thoughts.  Barely sniffing 4 feet and less than 50 pounds.  She’s now only a few inches shorter than Megan was, and almost to the same average weight.  She looks like Megan, sounds like Megan, and now, in the evening, she’s DRESSED like Megan. Not to mention the fact that she has a cold right now, so her throat is sore and she’s having trouble breathing through her nose.

She came into the living room after her bath the other night, for the first time wearing her mother’s pajamas and t-shirt, and it was an immediate, sharp, stinging flashback.  They fit her exactly as they fit her mom, and I immediately pictured Megan shuffling around the same house, always slightly sick.

It was not a comfort to me.  At that very moment, I wish I had went ahead and gotten rid of those pajamas.   Shelby embodies her mother in so many good ways, but I certainly wasn’t ready for her to be a doppelganger.  It was almost as if Megan was there in physical form. Although their faces, voice, and demeanor are both slightly different, those godforsaken pajamas brought Megan and Shelby back together.

To be fair, Shelby loves them.  They ARE comfortable. They DO give her a connection to her mother.  As baggy as they are, it IS kind of adorable to see her flowing around the house wearing them.  I’m a little on the disturbed side though. To me, it’s freshly weird. It’s yet another reminder that Megan isn’t here.  It’s a new thing to adjust to.

Those new things to adjust to are a frequent occurrence.  I imagine they always will be, as they certainly have been common throughout these four plus years of widowerhood.  It’s not a huge deal, or a devastating trigger, but regardless, it’s one of the more unique things that I had never thought about until these past few days.  I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the fact that I've had a few little teary eyed moments these past few days.

She’s big enough and old enough to wear her mother’s clothes now.  Damn. What was originally a plan to keep them around as a connection to Megan and something for Shelby to simply “wear” has become a thought-provoking observation into “what-if?”.  What-if Megan hadn’t died, and they were currently sharing clothes? What-if I had thrown them away or otherwise gotten them out of the house? Would Shelby have resented it if I did so?  Would Megan have gladly "loaned" them to Shelby, as she is currently doing?   

I haven’t, and I’m not going to present these thoughts to Shelby.  At least not for the time being. I want to let her be happy to wear her mom’s pajamas.  She went so far as to actually point out the fact that she was wearing them before I even noticed.  She’s proud that she CAN wear them, and truthfully enjoys the knowing they were her mother’s. I’m happy about that.  You can see her continuing love and remembrance for Megan evolving more deeply as she reaches adolescence. Even in something as simple as some flannel pajama bottoms.

I simply smirked, sighed, and said “god, you look like your mom”, and she giggled in response.  I waited until Shelby was in bed, and expressed all of the above to Sarah, who, as expected, totally got it and let me have my feelings.

Doesn’t mean it's easy.

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  • Beth Ensign
    commented 2019-02-17 17:34:54 -0800
    When my husband died, there were some things that I just had to make go away immediately, and some things I couldn’t bear to part with— my husband was a collector, of all KINDS of things, and there was hardly anything he didn’t think he could get more use out of. I gave away shoes, hats, overcoats, hankies, all in the first weeks after his death, mostly to people who’d known him and were happy to have something to remember him by. Two years on, I am making quilts from his shirts, and almost every day I wear something that belonged to him. At first, when I did that, I felt I could hear his reproachful voice in my head, as if I were stealing his space, or erasing him. Now I am comforted by wearing his old overalls, socks, shirts or hats. It helps me feel him still in some sense present in my life—