“It’s perfect!!” I smiled at Nick, “It is exactly what I wanted! Our baby will love it!”
It was October, and Nick had just finished painting the last wall in Evalyn’s nursery. I had spent the previous weeks making decisions on what colours to choose and where her furniture should go. It had been so exciting creating the perfect little room for her. I settled on a mint and grey theme; the two colours were seperated into squares on the wall and inside of the grey squares, we painted little white clouds. Nick had even spent hours making a little pom-pom cloud rug (he’s pretty creative like that) . . . . . .
I spent November 4th adding the finishing touches to her room; nappies and baby toiletries in the cupboards, muslins folded neatly into drawers and the most perfect little baby clothes hung in the wardrobe ready and waiting for her imminent arrival.
Four days later, we lost her.
There is no feeling more heartbreaking than walking past a nursery that was meant for a baby who never came home. I stood in the doorway of Evalyn’s room the day we got back from the hospital and I felt empty. All of that love. All of that preparation. All of that excitement. Gone. The white clouds on thier grey background almost mocked me. They no longer looked cute. They looked sad and downcast like they were getting ready for the storm to come.
On the 10th November, less than a week after we’d finished it, I asked Nick if we could start the process of taking Evalyn’s room apart. Just two days after we lost her, we pulled out the cream paint from the shed and began painting over the mint and grey walls. Two days! I do look back now and wonder how we did that. Every parent is different and grief affects us all in different ways. But I felt it was important to make it look less like a nursery, maybe not for us, but for my four year old son’s sake. He was already asking us when the baby would be coming home from Heaven and I felt like the nursery being there when Evalyn wasn’t gave him a false hope.
“What about the other wall?” Nick asked, pointing to the wall on the opposite side of the room that we had painted only in mint.
“Leave it for the time being,” I said, “I don’t want to erase the room completely. That wall’s plain enough to stay there.”
It has brought comfort, that plain mint coloured wall. As I reach the top of our stairs and look into Evalyn’s room, it is the first thing I can see through her door. Yes, it doesn’t look like a nursery, but it has been a reminder of what we had, what we lost, but also of the strength Evalyn has given to us. Mint has definitely become ‘Evalyn’s colour’. But that wall has also made me feel sad. I look at it and I’m reminded of the day we painted it. I am reminded of the hope we had and the hope we lost. . . .
I have spent the past few weeks going back and forth in my head – should I paint over it? Should I leave it? Is painting over it erasing Evalyn? Is it too soon to paint it? Will people think I’m moving on when that’s not the case at all? Will Evalyn, wherever she is, be angry at me for painting over her last wall? . . . .
I came to the conclusion late one night that I was happy for her room to be one way or the other – either a nursery or a blank room – but not a half-way place. I feel like my life is very much in a half-way place at the moment and I just need something to feel complete (even if it is a painted room).
“I think I’m going to paint Evalyn’s last wall tomorrow,” I told Nick one night as we lay in bed.
“Are you sure?” he asked, “I can help you do it if you wait until the weekend?”
I shook my head. “It’s ok. I want to do it. I’ll be fine. I just feel that it needs to be done.”
The following day when Nick was at work and Ieuan was at school I opened up the paint tub, took in the mint coloured wall one last time and began to paint. I thought I would be an emotional wreck, but I felt calm. With each brush stroke, I thought of Evalyn. I thought of the long nine months she was inside of my tummy. I thought about her scan pictures, her little kicks that would wake me in the mornings. I thought of all my happy moments with her. I remembered that, despite everything, knowing that she was growing inside of me had made us so happy for such a short space of time. Evalyn had made us happy . . . . .
I looked down at the last corner of the room that was left to paint and I realised that I didn’t want to paint over everything. This was still Evalyn’s room, not matter what the room becomes in the future. If we are lucky enough to have another child one day, then a new baby will share Evalyn’s room. If the room becomes something else, then I wanted a little reminder of Evalyn always there so that we would always feel her spirit.
It seemed like the natural thing to do when I painted around a little heart shape, keeping a little mint heart in an ocean of cream. How fitting. How perfect for Evalyn. I already know it will stay there forever. It brings me comfort knowing that it’s there and will always be there . . .
A little mint heart on the wall.