Time Bombs

I pulled my suitcase out of the closet this morning and found something I'd bought for Elena at MacWorld in January. I'd put it in my suitcase because I was supposed to travel the week before her birthday and this way I couldn't help but find the two computer programs I'd found for her. They were perfect. She would have loved them. If she hadn't died a week before.

But I didn't go to Denver the week before her birthday. And I didn't go to the four conferences I was scheduled to go to between then and now. So the software sat in my suitcase forgotten. A silent bomb that detonated when I pulled the bag from my closet this morning.

Kim has been able to give away some of the clothes that Elena had grown out of. She was done with them. We would have given them away anyway. Once in a while one of those outfits walks in the door on another child. Neither of us feels particularly sad. That's the part of Elena that was already gone. Kim has not been able to go through or part with any of the outfits that Elena could still wear when she died. She can't give away any of the clothes that she'd bought to give Elena on her birthday or beyond.

Looking at the software I understand. What do I do with it. It's kind of stupid not to give it to someone. But, for now, I can't. I had bought it so that we could explore a drawing program together and so that we could build funky gadgets out of animated gears. She and I would have had a bunch of fun with it.

I used to have trouble buying birthday and Christmas presents ahead of time. As soon as I found the perfect gift for someone I'd want them to have it. Why wait. I may go back to that. Not that I would have felt much different if Elena had played with the games for a couple of months.

I came upstairs and pulled out my laptop. When I'm home I don't tend to keep the email up to date on my laptop. I only check mail on the desktop and use the laptop for other tasks. But I'm about to travel so I needed to synch up my mail.

BOOM. Another time bomb.

Mail from IMAP accounts is exactly the same on any of my machines that check mail. When I delete a message from an IMAP mailbox on one machine it is automatically deleted from other machines when they synch up with the account. But POP accounts are different. I don't keep the mail on the server so the messages are downloaded locally to whatever machine I'm on.

The explosion was me seeing messages about Elena that had been downloaded to the laptop on her birthday. We were in Wisconsin with the Shen sisters on Elena's birthday and so there were sixty messages I hadn't synched up with my main account. I've been saving all of the comments on this blog as text files so that I have them in case anything happens to the web site. They come to me as emails. I had read the comments two months ago but hadn't archived them. I read each one again as I saved it to disk

As painful as these detonating bombs are, they are also wonderful. I'm looking to plant some more. I want to make sure that on a day when I'm not expecting it that Elena explodes into my consciousness. As we think about how to spend the money in Elena's foundation, we've considered Art programs, Music, and so on. We've also thought about saving some money to be awarded at graduation to some child in the class Elena would have graduated with.

A time bomb set to explode eleven years from now.

Published in: on May 13, 2006 at 10:13 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. thinking of you & your family this weekend..

  2. It was so interesting to read this post today. I have been cleaning out my eldest child’s closet in a futile attempt to organize the many photos, papers, school stuff she has saved since pre-school(she is now in fourth grade) and I came across the boxes of letters, cards,donations, etc. from six years ago when her little sister died. It was also a time bomb for me.

    Daniel, please share with Kim that there is no need to part with anything material now–or even in a few years–or ever. I kept my daughter’s crib up for months and months–and one day I just felt the overwhwlming need to disassemble it immediately…and I did. But clothes and such–I still have very many and over time I slowly just kept only the ones that had a very particular meaning or image to me. These material things are what is left that is still visible–we can touch, smell, see them. Only do what you absoluely feel like doing, when and if you feel like doing something with them.

    I know a couple that I had met in our support group whose son died suddenly and the wife’s mother came in and swooped everything up of his–she thought it would be less painful for them to not have these “reminders” . The couple was crushed and I remember the mother saying, “I grieve for these items also–it was like someone took him away again.”

    I hope I don’t always sound like a know-it-all in my posts to you–but I just so strongly feel the one thing to always remember–is to only do what you and Kim and Maggie feel is right. Follow your gut and heart on these things and you will know what to do when the time comes.


  3. I do not have children, so it often feels like I shouldn’t have anything to say, or no “right” to feel anything remotely similar to parental feelings. Yet today I welled up in tears after reading this entry, and it wasn’t the first time. This blog has been a wonderful gift to me, to all of us, and its poignance and beauty grow with every post. Thank you, Daniel.

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