After Maddie died I didn’t change the sheets on our bed for months. She’d spent her last night at home laying on those sheets, snuggled against me. I’d press my face into the spot where she slept, breathing deeply, hoping to inhale her essence. Even after we finally put new linens on the bed, I didn’t wash the sheets. It took until last month for me to feel ready, and I cried as I watched the water rise in the washing machine.

I had a pillow that smelled exactly like her. I took it everywhere, it was my security blanket. During Rigby’s horrible bout with bladder stones, she peed on the pillow (she couldn’t help it). I flipped out. I screamed at Mike, screamed at Rigby, and wailed that my pillow, Maddie’s pillow, was ruined. I curled into a ball and wept at the absurdity and unfairness of it all.

After Barf-o-rama 2011, I stripped our sheets to go in the wash. A dark spot on the bed caught my eye…upon closer inspection, I discovered it was mold. Annie had spilled a bottle, and we hadn’t done a good enough job of cleaning it up. I knew instantly that the bed was ruined.

Of course I cried. The mattress was only three and a half years old, and it took Mike and me months to save up for it. I knew a new bed would not be cheap. But I really cried because that bed arrived only days before Maddie came home from the NICU. She slept in it with us when she was on oxygen and when she and I needed middle of the day naps. Eight weeks after Annie came home, she dozed in the same spot her sister once slept in. I taught both girls how to sit up in that bed. We all jumped on it, played on it, had tickle fights and games of peekaboo.

Yesterday the mattress was carted off, and a new one (with a protective cover this time) is now in its place. I’m afraid to lay on it. Will my dreams be different?

It’s just a stupid mattress, right?

But why am I still crying?