Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Creating A Space For Myself Means Packing Up Clint's Room

When is the right time to pack up your child's room - I personally don't think that there is a right time or a wrong time. Everyone is different and I know Mark would have packed up Clint's room straight away, but it was not his call to make. My mother once asked me a few months after Clint died, how I managed to walk past his room everyday. Being in Clint's room and turning it into an almost shrine was very therapeutic in a way. I mentioned in this post that I slept in his room from when he died until weeks later when Mark told me that Clint would not like me smoking in his room. I knew that was true, because Clint hated smoking as much as Chad does, if not more than Chad does. I then cleaned Clint's room from top to bottom, packed everything all nicely and put flowers in his room and bought frames and put photos in his room. I remember quite clearly after making his bed with fresh linen, saying to myself now Clint's room is ready for when he comes home. It was a split second that ended in sobbing and crying for hours - for what felt like forever.

I had a ritual where every 16th of the month (Clint's death date) I would clean his room from top to bottom, wash his linen, buy flowers and then close his door. I did this for three years. No one was allowed in his room. Sheila only worked for us three days a week then and I would lock Clint's door so that she did not go into the room. This went on until they broke into our house in January 2010 and on seeing a locked door - we don't lock cupboards in our house, they assumed that there were valuables locked in the room and kicked in the door. Chad and I came home when they were still in Clint's room, we knew this, because Garfield was going crazy outside the door and we left. They never stole anything from Clint's room, but destroyed what his room became for me - a refuge; a shrine; a place of not only many many tears, but also a place of memories and reminders. I spent many sessions with my psychologist talking about how Chad and I were not harmed and how things could have gone horribly wrong and how although they never took any material things from Clint's room, they took away what Clint's room meant to me. They violated my space and my memories.

After that I never locked Clint's door again and it took me a long time to go back into his room and find the peace and comfort that I always sought when going in there. Now, although no one goes in Clint's room, except for Garfield and sometimes Jingles, Sheila cleans there everyday and changes the linen every second week. I put flowers in the room when it is Clint's birthday; death date; Christmas and sometimes just because I want to put flowers in his room.

Clint would have turned 25 this month - a grown up adult. I read blogs written by mothers who are 25 and younger. Grown up women and it is so hard to believe that I am a mother to someone that age. I know a lot of women my age and younger that are grandmothers - who are grandmothers to primary school children. Who knows if I would be a granny now if Clint had not died. I would have hoped that he did not marry and have children at a young age, but that hope and dream was taken away from us.

With all of this going on in my head, I have been looking at his room and thinking, even if he still lived at home, I don't think he would have had all those motorbike and girl posters all over his room and think I should take them down now. I have never particularly liked those posters on the walls, but it was Clint's room to do with as he liked and that was what he liked.

I have also been thinking about a place to have as my own, as opposed to the dining room table or on my lap in the lounge. A place to blog and read through all the photography emails I subscribe to, so that I can get some photography skills and also to separate work from personal. I do have my original office at home, but even if it was not the storeroom that it has become, I wouldn't want to get home at night and go sit in there and blog, because it is separate to the house. In January this year, I turned Clint's room into a temporary office and I was very unhappy about it. The desk that was Clint's years ago is still in his room from when I used it as an office and I have been toying with the idea of packing away his stuff and making his room my space. At the same time that I had these thoughts running through my head, Mark said that when we move from these premises, we need to take our air conditioning unit from our office at work as well as the glass sliding door we fitted when we moved here and put them somewhere at home. We both came up with Clint's room at the same time. Is it a sign that it is OK to use Clint's room as my space.

We had air cons fitted to the bedrooms after Clint died and we never put one in Clint's room, because a) no one used the room and b) I wanted no one in his room messing it up. The same as with our solar lighting - his room doesn't have, because I would not allow workers in his room. Now I have to make a quick decision - do we allow workers in his room to breakdown the walls and put in a sliding door and an air con unit? Do I use his room as my space. Clint's room looks right onto the pool - his happy place. I am having sleepless nights and many tears trying to make this decision.

I play this thing in my head over and over and over - what am I ever going to do with Clint's stuff. I just cannot give his stuff away. I kept his stuff for Chad, but Chad doesn't want it - like brand new T-Shirts - all brand names and I can now understand that it will be too painful for Chad to wear it. Chad asked for all Clint's stuff when he died, his model cars and bikes, I said he must wait a year - I think I said it, because I was putting off accepting Clint's death. I won't pack away his stuff now, because I refuse to accept his death. After the year was up Chad didn't want anything. He has since taken Clint's pellet gun and also his remote control car. The rest of Clint's stuff is still in his room - Clint was a hoarder and I don't feel right throwing out his stuff. Mark does not understand this, because we always give our stuff that we don't use or clothes we don't wear to the poor, but the difference is, if Clint was here I could say, do you want this or not - now I can't.

So when is the right time to pack your child's room up after death - there is never a right time, because it is something a mother should never have to do. If I do make the changes, I will do it in such a way that it will still be Clint's room and a place for flowers on special days and a place where I can find peace and solitude - a place of respect for Clint's memory and his things that he valued and looked after.

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