I pull the familiar soft cotton shirt over my head. The faded green bears the scars of many a wash, first from the industrial washers buried in the basement of William and Mary Hall and eventually the stacking variety sitting in our laundry room. The golden yellow number 11 is still hanging on the back even though the edges are cracked and peeling. I wear it when I need to feel like myself and remember what it's like to work hard and accomplish something individually and as a team. Just picking it up brings back the smells of freshly cut grass and the sight of our practice field with the fog lifting in the early morning. A simple t-shirt gives me comfort, renewal and reminders of that part of me that sometimes seems lost.
One of the first things I noticed when I walked into Jeanne and Mike's room after the accident was the lanudry basket with freshly folded clothes. Was this the last thing she did before they got in the car to go get dinner? For the longest time none of us could touch those clothes. Swimming t-shirts of E's. M's pajamas. Running clothes and socks of Jeanne's and a few of Mike's boxers and undershirts. So intimate, yet familiar. Heartbreaking.
I do tons of laundry. The girls especially go through alot of clothes. If it's on their body for more than 30 seconds it immediately goes in the hamper. Even after almost 2 years, I still sometimes mix up their clothes, especially as M is closing the gap in size with E. There is something very maternal for me in folding their laundry. I imagine Zhea folding some of the same clothes and lovingly smoothing the wrinkles. Did she fold shirts the same way I do? Do the girls notice? How many times did she fold E's Mickey Mouse undies that her dad had to buy her when their luggage was lost on a father daughter trip to Disney. M sometimes sleeps in one of her dad's navy squandron shirts.
The girls are starting to forget their parents. Not in the big ways, but in the little things. Their voices. Their smell and touch. It scares them. It scares me.
The girls are starting to grow out of their clothes that their mom bought them. T-shirts from family vacations. The same Mickey Mouse underwear are worn and stretched. If I'm noticing it, I can only imagine what must be going through their minds.
Intellectually, I know that they are only clothes, but in some sense they represent another tangible way in which their parents are gone. First the accident itself and then their house. I can't even imagine how it must feel to live without their sisters.
I hope that some of those worn t-shirts or pajama bottoms magically continue to fit them. M still has her squadron shirt and her mom's college soccer sweatshirt. I'm hoping those mouse undies hold out a little longer.
Afterall, I still have that practice jersey.