I opened Otito’s box this weekend. It is a box where I stored away the clothes, toys and personal effects he used in the weeks preceding his death. I suddenly realised that the batteries were still in the toys and had to go through the torture of rummaging the box to sort out his toys. The thought that I would have felt worse if the toys got ruined powered me through the prospect. I built myself up for it all week. I was very aware that seeing Otito’s stuff was always my greatest trigger. For this reason, I kept on putting off the simple task.
On Sunday, without even thinking about it after church, I just went for it. On one hand, i think that feeling very uplifted after what had been a lovely church service gave me the boost that I needed. From one trouser to the next, I sorted through. After that I brought out one toy after the other. Initially, I avoided setting any of the buttons off to avoid hearing the sounds of what were once the soundtracks of our lives. In my usual clumsy way I dropped one of the toys on top of the heap and that set off the cacophony I was desperately avoiding.
To my utmost surprise, the feelings I began to experience were anything but raw grief. I began to smile as one sound after the next took me back to my boy. To times when his little fingers set those same sounds off. Times long gone came flashing before my eyes. My grief was real but suddenly it felt kinder to me. It was not pulling at my heart but somehow, it felt like a dull ache. The sounds warmed my heart and I even found myself smiling through tears that seemed more like tears of joy at the time.
In less than a few minutes, the familiar sounds cajoled the boys from the different parts of the house where they were otherwise busily lost in their own worlds. The sounds lured them and as Mark walked into the room followed by Karl, I began to struggle to switch off the toys. I wished that I was alone in the house as I would have loved to indulge myself. Mark began singing along and It became a bitter sweet moment for us all. There was a serenity within it all as Mark sang that I cannot really explain. We were all together yet lost deeply within our individual thoughts. We began smiling at one another and enjoying the toy sounds while selfishly holding on to our individual thoughts.
“These are Otito’s toys mum. What are you doing?”, Mark asked me rather protectively.
” I am just taking the batteries out”, I said.
So we spent the Sunday afternoon thinking about Otito. We also watched some videos from when Otito was a baby playing with Mark. It was just nice to see our boy again. I had forgotten how happy he used to be amidst all the pain.
I am so grateful for all the lovely videos we ever made and still make. It is so funny how much we forget over time and how quickly grief and pain replace every joyful memory when they strike. It is such a blessing to be able to revisit some old but beautiful memories.
Thank you for reading