This post is part of a ten-post series I’m sharing about the life and loss of our son, Afton. Click here to read more of Afton’s story.
I think it was on Sunday, the day we lost Afton, that my nurses gently suggested I take a shower. I’d been on bedrest, unshowered, for five days. 😳 I knew it was necessary but the idea of it made me so heartsick.
Soap, water. Getting clean. Leaving him behind. No, no, no, this is all wrong.
That shower is one of my most vividly painful and brave memories of January 1, 2017: me, sitting on a chair in the shower, weak from surgery, and Bjork sitting just outside the shower because it was too emotionally scary for me to do alone. We breathed in the steam and wept and took that first step towards our new normal. Towards life after Afton.
I started easy: my feet. Then my legs. My arms, my belly, my face. As I got closer to my chest, that sacred place right over my heart where Afton had taken his last breath, the knot in my stomach tightened. “He’s deeper than my skin,” I cried over and over and over. We both nodded, pretending to be brave as I sprayed hot water over the spot where Afton had been snuggled in so close, my first and last physical touch point with my living baby boy.
After I showered, a grief counselor knocked on the door. She sat on the edge of my bed and cried with us. Then she suggested something awesome: picking a smell for Afton. She told us to choose a scent that we could put on his tiny body and clothes that we would remember as “his smell,” even after ten thousand more showers.
The day before he was buried, our sweet Afton got a royal lavender treatment – candles, soap, lotion, oil, the works. He was tucked into his casket smelling like peaceful lavender, mom and dad’s kisses, and grandma’s blanket, complete with a few stray Sage hairs between the yarn.
It’s been 25 days since that shower, and it’s almost to the point where the scent of my lavender lotion is starting to catch me off guard. And it’s so amazing. I think: oh, there he is again! 💙 My little Afton, almost as close as skin on skin.
You’re deeper than my skin, sweet baby. All the showers in the world could never wash you off.