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Abby’s sandals May 6, 2007

Posted by guinever in death, grief, healing, heaven, loss.

I wrote this about 2 months after my daughter’s death.

The night after the funeral, Jennifer pulled me aside and gave me an envelope that the funeral director had given her. She told me that it contained Abby’s sandals. I felt it and it seemed like maybe it contained more than her sandals. Her shirt, shorts, something else? I was afraid to open it.

Tonight, eight weeks later, I finally opened the envelope. I really didn’t think I’d ever open it. Or maybe I wouldn’t open it for a very long time. I imagined putting it in the wooden chest that Todd is going to make and sending everything up to the attic with a note attached, “Abby’s sandals. Never opened.”

Tonight as my house is silent, I sit here thinking about my baby girl. I gaze at the proof of her gravestone that I’ve signed off on. I think of Val, the artist who has taken the time to sketch her face. I love what he did with the photograph we provided. Her dimples are there, her eyes are twinkling, her hair is wispy with some curls, her bangs are long. There’s a little flower on the collar of her shirt. How can I be happy over a gravestone? But I am. Soon, Val will her etch face into stone. And I think, “Is this what my baby has become? A beautiful face etched in black granite?” I want to taste her, smell her, touch her. I want to see the shirt she was wearing.

So I went to the hutch, and felt around at its top. I had to stand on a chair to reach the envelope. I opened it right away, because I know if I had hesitated for even a moment, I would have changed my mind. Inside the manilla envelope was a thick clear plastic envelope. It contained her sandals and a photocopy of the picture I had given to the funeral director. The photocopy is smudged with the yucky makeup they used to cover Abby’s pale deathness. Is that lipstick I see on her fingers and on her dolly’s cheek? I hadn’t noticed the blanket before. How many times had I looked at this picture and I never noticed that the blanket from my Grandpa is in the picture. Priceless.

The sandals. I want to touch the sandals. I want to smell the sandals. But it’s not her. I want to smell Abby. This isn’t Abby’s smell. Is it the smell of leather encased in plastic? Leather smells like leather. A good scent. But this isn’t a good leather smell. Something antiseptic to it.

There’s a few dried liquid drops on the sandals. Seems like the wrong color for blood. Iodine? The orange makeup? I don’t know. I smell the shoes again.

I’m both disappointed and relieved that her clothes aren’t here. I put the sandals and picture back into the clear envelope and into the manilla envelope and shut the clasp and throw it back up onto the top of the hutch, out of reach and out sight, just like Abby.

So far away. Singing and dancing with the angels and the archangels of heaven and all the Herricks and the Van Campens that have gone before her. Do they know her? Have her four great-grandfathers claimed her as their own? Are they loving her? Is she delighting them with her smiles and sweetness? Is Abby’s spirit as a 2 year old? Or is her spirit mature? Will she be 2 when I see her again? Does she know her tiny embryo sibling? Are they together? Does she have a sister with her or is he a brother? Are they holding hands? Do spirits have hands?

Jesus has my baby Abby. I want my Abby. I want her back. Why did He have to take her so soon? I wasn’t done with her. People have told me that her work on earth was done. That’s a stupid thing to say. No, her work had just begun. I have a lot more work for Abby to do. She used to help me everywhere. I need her help again.


1. dsimple - May 7, 2007

((((Hugs)))) to you. I wish I were there in person to give you a real hug, rather than just a cyber one. People really do say the most amazingly stupid things to grieving people. Thank you so much for sharing your heart as you walk through this difficult, horrible thing. I know your thoughts and your journey will help others, but I believe the sharing will help you, as well. More (((hugs))) and prayers, too.



2. Courtney W. - May 8, 2007

I told someone about Abby’s sandals today – before I read this post – I told them of how her sandal’s were in the photo with her siblings that first year and how it touched me. And of course we spoke about your grief but also about the comfort of God. And then I found my way to this post, to your site as I do every few months, and discovered that you were thinking of her sandals, too these days.


3. candicelmartin - February 26, 2008

I found your site and have been reading some of the posts. This is the one that hit me. I have a box I cannot open with memories like this. There are pictures of the precious little girl Jesus holds in His hands, there is a blankie. There is a pink Care-Bears hooded bath towel that kept her scent the best so I put it in a plastic bag in hopes that I could trap the smell. But it didn’t work. The towel smells like plastic now. I know what is there, but I cannot open the box.

I am praying for you and for your family.


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