In a few weeks, we will invite a stranger into our home. She’ll interview us and examine our house to make sure we are suitable to be parents again. It’s part of the adoption home study process. I wonder what she’ll think as she walks through each room of our house, and sees reminders of Zoey in almost all of them.
When she walks in our front door, she’ll see a ladder bookcase holding Zoey’s photos, a stuffed turtle, and a very small, bejeweled butterfly that holds a tiny bit of Zoey’s ashes. In the living room, she’ll glance at the mantel where she’ll see the photo of Zoey swaddled in my wedding dress. She’ll see the wooden carving of a tiny turtle riding on the back of a momma turtle, but she won’t know that I bought it in Jamaica when we spread Zoey’s ashes at the same beach where we got married. She’ll see a basket of stuffed animals. None of them are torn, tattered or matted – none of the signs of being well-loved.
On the back of the couch sits a bear weighing 6.2 pounds and wearing a pink and blue tutu. An anchor is embroidered on the chest. Will she know that sometimes I cling to that bear, holding it against my chest, for just a tiny reminder of how it felt to hold Zoey there?
She’ll go down the hall. To the left, a bedroom, empty except for a desk and a dresser. Perfectly suitable for a baby’s room, but the window is small and the light doesn’t shine in like it should. On the other end of the hall is a white door with a small anchor hanging on the outside. A door that’s been closed for more than three years. Behind that door is a dusty room with a changing table, a bassinet, and reminders of what should have been.
The Room That Was Hers
The room has a large window that allows the mid-day sun to shine in even through the plantation shutters. That room is where we changed Zoey’s diapers, laughing when we didn’t get a new one quickly enough and left Joe’s shirt soaked. It’s where her daddy cradled her as her bright blue eyes marveled at the mobile hanging above her. It’s where a bookcase holds titles like The Day the Crayons Quit and On the Night You Were Born – books that I read to Zoey even before she was born. Books that I should still be pulling out to read to an anxious child fighting off sleep.
That’s the room that should have the hardwood floors dingy from dropping toys and windows smudged from tiny fingers. There should be misshapen stick people drawn on the walls in red crayon. It’s the room that should hold whispered conversations during sleepovers with friends. It’s the room that should be packed up, leaving ribbons, trophies, and notebooks, as she goes off to college.
It’s also the room where I believe another child belongs. I don’t want to replace the memories we made with Zoey. But I want the chance to make new ones there, too. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs and breathe life into that space again. I want to open the blinds, and let the light spill across the floor. I want to stand on those floors, swaying and whispering comfort to a baby in the middle of the night. And I want to walk in and pick up that well-loved Mickey Mouse doll with one eye missing. I want more memories.
Our Love Remains
I want the social worker to walk into our home, and see that our love for Zoey remains, but that there’s still room for joy and hope. And I hope she’ll see we have space in our hearts for even more love.
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