Every inch of our home bears evidence that a child lived here.

The floor is littered with toys.

The walls are lined with photos of her smiling face.

The corners of our tables are covered with plastic guards.

When Maddie was here these things brought endless joy. Now they simultaneously remind us of the happy times that were and of what is not to be.

Today I called the company that supplied the five-foot-tall oxygen tank that Maddie sometimes used at night so that they could come to take it away. Heather was emotional about calling to have her daughter’s tank taken away, so I dialed them up when she was in the shower. Here was our conversation:

COMPANY: “(Company name). How can I help you?”

ME: “I was calling to have an oxygen tank picked up from our home.”

COMPANY: “And the patient’s name?”

ME: “Madeline Spohr.”

COMPANY: “Okay, sir. I see you in the computer. And reason for pick-up?”

ME: “She, uh, no longer requires it.”

COMPANY: “In that case, sir, we will need a doctor’s note explicitly stating that she no longer needs to have an oxygen tank in the home. This note will need to be on official stationary so –

ME: “She passed away.  That’s why she doesn’t need it anymore.  She died.”

A long beat passes.

COMPANY: “I understand, sir. We will pick up tomorrow. Will that work for you?”

ME: “Yes.”

COMPANY: “Thank you, sir.”

The line went dead.

So tomorrow the first thing of Maddie’s will leave our home, and, as you can see from the transcript above, parting with it was far from easy. I really don’t know what to do with everything else. The toys on the floor? They can’t stay there forever, but how can we get rid of them? Or if not to get rid of them…where do we put them?  This is the heartbreaking reality of losing someone you love.

For now I have no answer. I can’t bear to deal with what to do with her things, but I know we can’t just leave them strewn about the floor forever. I suppose time will have an answer.