There is the blanket, hat, and baby cocoon that my cousin crocheted and sent to me in Dallas. I remember when it arrived and I remember laying it out on the table picturing Anne Marie all snuggled up. There are several baby sleepers from friends and family. There is Anne Marie's little Bible from my aunt and a hankie stained with mascara from the funeral. There is a little dress from her grandparents that we dressed Anne Marie in after she died and the blanket that was also Lillie and Mary Margaret's that we wrapped her in as we held her. There are little booties, burp cloths, a knitted hat, and OU socks from dear friends. Anne Marie wore those little booties and socks -- some of the only things she was able to wear. I used the burp cloths to prop up her many tubes and shield her eyes from the lights in her room. And there is my old cell phone with text messages saved on it. I remember being up at the hospital, hearing the text message sound, and opening my phone to read a Scripture verse or words of comfort. There are two little thermal blankets I used to keep Anne Marie warm, and bows I clipped onto the wire on her forehead. And there are the many cards and letters we received -- from new friends and old, from family, and from strangers. Words of comfort that I have read over and over.
There are also things I have of Anne Marie's that are not in the box. On my bed is Anne Marie's little lamb, given to her by her grandparents the day she was born. This little lamb stayed by her bedside day and night. When I think of a lamb, I think of Anne Marie. And there is the necklace with all my kids' names on it that another cousin made for me when Anne Marie was in the hospital. There is also a necklace with the initial A on it that our ballet teacher gave to me. One of these is always around my neck.
I also have memories of Anne Marie's things that are not with us -- a little smocked dress and bonnet from sweet friends in Dallas and a blanket made by a friend at church. These are the things we buried her in.
These are just of few of the many treasured things -- each one dear with a different memory attached to it.
And then there is a little pair of socks. Just a plain little pair of white socks with a small green band around the edge. These socks are the only things I have that I don't know who they're from, but they are one of my most special reminders of Dallas and Anne Marie.
On our last night with Anne Marie, after she died, we put on her dress and wrapped her in her sisters' pink blanket. We were able to hold her for a long time, seeing her face without tubes and rubbing her little feet and arms without any IV stuff getting in the way. I remember sitting there gazing at her and kissing her, yet knowing that I was going to have to give her up. I was going to have to put her in someone else's arms and leave the hospital without her. Of course I knew she was already with Christ, yet I'm her mother and she is my infant child. I wanted to be with her. I wanted to hold her and not let go. Thinking about her being in the hospital morgue that night "all alone" was almost unbearable. Even now just thinking about it nearly knocks the breath out of me and I know it is only by God's grace that we made it through that terrible night.
A few days after she died, we were back home. We went to the funeral home and took the dress Anne Marie was to be buried in. The next day, when we went back to the funeral home, they gave us the clothes Anne Marie had been wearing when they picked her up in Dallas -- her pink dress, her pink blanket, and a pair of white baby socks with green trim.
Now, when we left the hospital the night Anne Marie died she wasn't wearing socks. I know because not only did I stroke her bare feet for hours, but we also took pictures of those beautiful bare feet. But that night after I left, someone was still caring for her. Someone noticed that she didn't have socks on and knew that babies need socks or their little feet will get cold. And so I picture someone gently putting on those little socks and making sure she was all wrapped up in her little blanket. Tenderly caring for my infant daughter even after I left. Sacred things and sacred memories that I will treasure all my life.