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AVERYday: Wiping Away the Mud - Part 13

There are moments when the grief hits you so hard it's like trying to breathe oxygen while submerged in a mud pit. Everything feels thick and heavy and dark and you think there's no way you're going to be able to grasp that next breath.

But somehow you do.

My problem were her shoes. See, Avery always wore these white tennis shoes with pink soles. Always. Every day. She was like that. Twenty pairs of shoes, but the kid would get hooked on one, and nothing would get her out of them. Before the tennis shoes she wore these pink flip-flops. Every. Single. Day.

But I couldn't get the shoes. They were destroyed in the accident. And her flip-flops would mean her feet would be cold. I couldn't let her feet be cold. I couldn't bury her without shoes. I couldn't choose another pair because I couldn't remember which ones pinched her feet, or which ones were too big, or which ones she just didn't like.

And, yes, of course I was fully aware that this was my human brain trying to make sense of something so out of my control. Yes, I fully realized that Avery's spirit did not need shoes on her feet; she was already soaring with the angels. And yet, all I could hear was my baby needs shoes.

So, I awkwardly put people on the spot when they dropped by with a casserole, demanding to know what I should do. Everyone did their best to stammer through a possible answer: pick out another pair? Buy a pair that looked just like them? Insist the flip-flops would be fine. She always did wear those flip-flops, didn't she?

But I'm a Mama. And flip-flops wouldn't do, no matter how much she loved them, and she can't go without shoes, and God, I cannot breathe. I cannot do this. I cannot! I do not want to be this woman! I do not want to be the one who picks out a burial outfit instead of a sparkly new dress for her upcoming Christmas Program. I do not want this!.... at all! not make me be this woman!

Avery on her first day of Fifth Grade.
With the shoes.
September 2012

I called up the funeral director, unsure of what to say or how to say it, only knowing that for some reason I had to. "Umm, hi.... It's just that, uh, I'm having trouble... Avery doesn't have any shoes... well, she does, but she doesn't like them.... and ... (sobbing) .... I can't put her in flip-flops!"

I don't recall exactly how he responded, only that he said things that made me think about stuff other than shoes. He reminded me that this was for me; there was no right or wrong way to do this. That I needed to be okay with what I chose, not anyone else. That I was her mother and if I felt I needed to pack her a suitcase then I should do just that.

And just like that I knew what to do. The only way I could mess this up was to stop being her mother.

Avery was so full of life. So full of love. She didn't care about outfits or shoes accenting or whether or not she'd ever be considered a fashionista. She cared about treating people right and treating each other with respect and being kind. She cared about making people feel included and loved. She cared about being comfortable and allowing others to be comfortable, no matter how they defined their comfort.


I thought of Avery and how she would grab her blanket off her bed and wrap up in it like she was a burrito. I thought about how she'd grab my socks when she had what appeared to be hundreds of her own.

Comfort Wrapped 2009

And then I grabbed her blanket and a pair of my socks. And I wiped the mud from my eyes, took my next breath...

Comfort Wrapped 2012
    ... and headed to the Funeral Home to make sure they tucked my baby in properly.


Brenna said…
What you decided was perfect. It was perfect.
You were & will forever be the most incredible loving & insightful mother I have ever known. Your words are the most picture perfect expression of honesty. I am honored to share in title with you dearest sweet Bridget. Mothers we do always know best! Avery is so very proud of you. You always know exactly what your babies need of you! Even in the muddiest of waters. <3
mollysmith222 said…
So so sorry. Your decision was the right one, I only wish you never had to make it.
Heather Bush said…
Oh my goodness, Bridget, I know this feeling, I know this thought process. My father wore a black t-shirt with a pocket and Wrangler blue jeans every day of his life. Every single day. When we knew that it was the end, I went to the store and bought a new black pocket t-shirt and a pair of Wranglers in a smaller size than he had ever worn in my life. Every one thought he should be wearing a suit, that's what people do, they dress up for their funerals. But not my dad, he went with comfort, he went as the person that he was.

Your choice was perfect, precisely perfect.
Ellen said…
The comfort surrounds her just as your arms did and you still do. Remember all that she was in your loving arms...she is at peace soaring with the angels.
Oh, Bridget! That is just perfect. No wonder you couldn't figure out that blasted shoe thing.
gradydoctor said…
This was exactly, perfectly beautiful. You are honoring her, here. I love that you are and I love that you are introducing us to the tiniest parts of Avery. Thank you.
Becca said…
So perfect. And thank God for your kind funeral director. I so wish you didn't have to make these decisions.
Chiconky said…
Absolutely perfect. More perfect than if you'd been able to have her shoes. And I want to hug the man at the funeral home, for saying exactly what needed to be said.
Jennifer said…
Bridget, your blogs, while heartbreaking to know you are having to go through this, they also bring comfort to those of us that have struggled through a loss. When my father died in 1989, my mother had an 18 yr old, a 16 yr old, & a 6 yr old to try to comfort and explain the loss all while dealing with it herself. Everyone kept telling her my father needed and should be buried in a suit, it was the proper thing to do. My father was a country boy in every sense of the word and would not have worn a suit in life for any reason. My mother upset a lot of people but she decided as a way to help us was to let us choose. So my father was buried in his wranglers, his faded old western shirt that we all hated but he loved and holding his cowboy hat that he was never without. The 6 yr old even included a family picture of us and a note so Daddy wouldn't forget us. Our last view of our father was the way he always looked and that still brings comfort 23 yrs later. You made the right decision by doing for Avery what she would have wanted. I only hope you can find some peace in knowing that.

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