After Maddie died we received such an outpouring of generosity. Our friends set up a P.O. Box so people could send us cards. Well, it went way beyond cards, and we were sent some truly amazing, soul-touching things. In another example of how great our friends and family are, they went through everything we were sent in those first months. Not only would that have been a massive undertaking for us emotionally, it was also quite literally a massive undertaking as we were receiving hundreds of pieces of mail per week.
I am so grateful for the help we had going through everything, although there was a very large glitch in the system…mostly that there really wasn’t a system. Some people would open boxes, make sure they didn’t contain something crazy (there were a few…crazy…packages), and then leave everything untouched. Others would take everything out of the box and recycle the packaging. Notes were placed into piles, away from their corresponding trinkets. Long story short, several of the things we were sent were unlabeled, so when Mike and I were up to going through the things we’d been sent, we unfortunately had no idea where some of them had come from.
This has always been a huge source of embarrassment for me. I know that people didn’t send things expecting to get anything from me in return, but I wanted to send notes to the people who’d spent their time and money on us. I thought about writing a post about the things we’d been sent, but I was worried it would sound like we placed more value on the items and less on the notes, letters, comments, and emails, and that definitely wasn’t true. Basically, I paralyzed myself by over thinking it.
We’ve kept everything we were sent, and thanks to our loved ones, it’s all neatly organized. I have all the cards and letters, the pictures drawn by kids, dolls, pins, figurines, jewelry, etc, all tucked into a large, very special memory box. And just like I’m not always up for writing about Maddie, it’s not often that I have the emotional strength to go through the memory box regularly. However, just knowing it’s there is such a comfort. When I feel alone in my grief, I can simply look at the box and be reminded of the people who stood by us.
Earlier this week I received a friendly email from a reader, and she identified herself to me by naming something she’d sent to us after Maddie died. I instantly knew exactly what she was talking about: a tiny, beautiful silver baby shoe with Maddie’s initials and birthday engraved on the back. It’s been hanging on Maddie’s urn since the day I saw it, and I’d never known who’d sent it.
I literally look at and touch this charm every single day, so to be able to identify who’d sent it to me…I was so grateful. I emailed her back immediately.
I know I need to let go of the guilt I have over not being able to thank every person who reached out to us in those early months, but it’s hard, especially since the love sent our way was so profoundly important to us. I feel lucky that I was able to thank this woman, and only wish that I could thank the rest as well.