I Wish I Could Stop Time

Erin Britt Loss

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I sit in front of the enormous pile that has amassed in our storage room—baby clothes, books, CDs, toy cars, stuffed animals, and random game pieces stare me down from a messy mound.

It is a task I have been dreading. For months, I have been spot assessing items around our home and placing them in one of three categories—pack, sell, consign. We will be moving in the fall and it has to be done.

The job isn’t as easy as it should be. I know the rule— if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. The picnic basket we got for a wedding present 13 years ago and have never used is out. The fancy art piece on the even fancier easel that we had to put away because the baby kept knocking it over will get packed. And the infant sleepers that everyone wore but no one will wear ever again will go to the consignment store for some other mother, some other new baby.

But certain items give me pause, like the stuffed green “girl” frog holding a rose that someone gave Joey while he was in the hospital. They thought she would be a cute companion for Joey’s “Spotty Frog.” Only, by then, his brain tumor was so progressed, that he didn’t really care about the girl frog.

The stuffed animals from our Make-a-Wish trip to Disney World—I don’t care about those, do I? The boys chose them as ones they didn’t want to keep. It was a trip I never wanted to take in the first place. So why do I hold Pluto and hesitate?

Activity books and mazes and coloring books, puzzles and games and sets of cards all accumulated during the first two weeks of Joey’s illness for his initial hospital stay. Some barely used, others not touched at all.

Anything that makes me think of Joey is just put back into the pile. It’s too hard. It’s just still too hard to face the memories of the cancer diagnosis, the 14 months of sickness, of knowing why none of these items ever got used.

Still others—the small yellow piano that drove Hubby nuts every time a toddler banged on its keys, the dollhouse that Uncle Ken laughed at that Christmas the boys received it instead of a tool bench, the dump truck with one wheel missing that I keep saving from the garbage every time Hubby throws it away—these things and others are a portrait of my children’s childhood.

A childhood that is getting farther and farther in the distance. I want to stop the car and get out and go back. Not forever, just for a little longer.

I want to play one more game of Go Fish. I want to play “restaurant” with the food from the kitchen set one more time. I even want to sing along to that annoying song the baby gym plays just one more time before we move. Before they all move on and grow up.

Before it’s too late. I know about too late, and it guts you. It makes you want to stop time, freeze it, nail it down, make it commit.

But time is fickle. When you want it to speed up, it drags its feet. But if you ask it to go slow, it marches boldly forward. It will neither let you turn back nor jump ahead. It simply takes your hand and moves with you, and you have no choice but to relent.

A toy, a book, a lovey, a memory . . . these things stop time and make me not want to move at all.

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Erin Britt

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