Monday, July 19, 2010


Today I'm blogging from Hannah's bedroom. Well, actually, it's no longer Hannah's bedroom, because her bed is no longer here. For quite some time, we've been wanting to do some changing around in our house, and this past weekend, we finally did it.

For Hannah's 17th birthday, her big present from us was all new bedding...a beautiful white comforter with small black flowers, and all the pillows and stuff to go with it. She and I had shopped for it together and had lots of fun picking it out. She was really excited about it! Brad and I knew she would potentially be spending a lot of time in her bed in the months ahead and we wanted her to be comfortable and surrounded by things she loved. Her bed had a beautiful cherry headboard and footboard that we had bought several years ago for $100 from some friends who were moving, and she also had a nice dresser and bedside table. When she went to Heaven four months after her birthday, we basically just shut the door to her bedroom and left it as it was. Back on August 29, 2009, I wrote a post all about her room, closing by saying that we wanted to make "something special out of this room...a quiet, peaceful, inviting kind of room, a place where you can study your Bible, or spend some time with the Lord. I'm ready to open the shades, let the sun shine in, and keep the door of this room open again. But I'm not sure how to do it yet...we're still waiting for God's timing."

Well, apparently God's timing was this past weekend! For some time, we've been talking about moving Hannah's queen size bed into Bethany's room to replace her full size bed. Bethany has gotten so tall, she could really use that bigger bed! So we finally decided to do it. And, of course, if Bethany was going to get Hannah's bed with the nice headboard and footboard, she needed to get the matching dresser and bedside table as well.

So the process began last Thursday evening (which also just happened to be exactly 1 year and 5 months from the last time Hannah was in her room), with me removing all of Hannah's "stuff" from her dresser and table. The drawers of her bedside table were full of notes she had taken during youth group meetings and church services. There were also letters from her friend, Brittany, and some notes she had apparently passed back and forth during class. There was a jar of money, some stale candy, school schedules, and lots of cheap jewelry. On top of the table was her Bible, and some other keepsakes. I carefully went through all these items and kept everything that had her personal touch on it, placing them in a beautiful, black and white fabric-covered box. Some tough decisions had to be made...I can't keep every piece of paper she ever wrote on, or every pair of earrings she ever wore. I tried to choose just those things that were special...a particular item of jewelry that she wore a lot, or papers that included personal notes or doodling. I must admit that it was hard to think of all of Hannah's "stuff" being reduced to a box.

After the bedside table was empty, I moved on to the dresser. I opened up her top drawer, which contained all her "unmentionables", and was immediately flooded by the memories. How many times had I washed and folded those items...probably even grumbling about having to do so much laundry...and now I hadn't even seen them in so long! I managed to shut off my brain for awhile and removed all these things from the drawer, placing them in a trash bag. What else do you do with this kind of stuff? I can't imagine donating a bunch of used undergarments to anyone (although I remember when the Clintons did it!)...but I haven't been able to bring myself to take that trash bag to the dump yet. It's still sitting there, just waiting. I'm not sure yet what's going to happen to it.

The second drawer was her blue jean drawer, and it was almost completely empty...because I actually took over some of her jeans for myself several months ago, and I had passed several pairs down to Hannah's cousins. There was only one pair of jeans left in there...her favorite pair, with heart-shaped stitching on the back pockets. I folded them up and put them on a shelf in her closet. Those are not going in a trash bag. Done with that drawer!

The next two drawers were overflowing with T-shirts...Magnet Cove Panthers basketball, student council, FBLA, science club, American Idol, Odyssey of the Mind, Disciple Now, Arkansas Children's Hospital, junior high band, all-region choir, church camp...She had tons of T-shirts. And she rarely wore any of them. She preferred to wear "cute" tops. I have a plan for these shirts, though...I went through and pulled out all the special ones, and I am going to have a quilt made out of them. I am really excited about that! When it's finished...and I'm sure it's going to be awhile...I'll post a picture!

The bottom drawer of her dresser was filled with pajama pants. She loved pajama pants, and she received lots of them as gifts during her illness. Lots and lots of them. Many of them have not even been worn, and I have put them in a trash bag as well, but they will be donated...maybe to a women's shelter that our church is in the process of forming.

So we got all of that done on Thursday night...and on Friday morning, we started painting Bethany's room. Painting was a necessity because her blue and brown walls would clash terribly with Hannah's white and black bedspread. She chose a very bright turquoise color for her room, and after two coats, it looked great. We moved Hannah's bed and furniture into her room that evening, and it was beautiful! She moved all of her things from her little-girl looking white furniture into Hannah's furniture, and the transformation was incredible. Her "little girl" room is's now a young lady's room. She couldn't be more pleased. Check it out!

That evening, with all the furniture now gone, I had the extremely difficult task of sweeping out Hannah's room. Remember, the door has been closed and the room untouched for almost a year and a half. As I moved the broom around the room, I of course swept up a lot of dust, but along with the dust was a lot of hair...Hannah's hair. I had an irrational desire to keep that pile of dust and hair, just because it was a connection to Hannah, but after some hesitation, I vacuumed it up. I actually do have a whole bag full of Hannah's hair in my closet...I kept it when we shaved it off during her second round of radiation treatments, thinking maybe we could somehow make a wig out of it for her. But it was too dry and brittle to be of any use. I've never even looked in that bag since that day...but I always know in the back of my mind that I have it.

After sweeping out the room and closing the closet doors (the closet is still full of her clothes and stuff...just couldn't do that yet...I'm just going to keep those doors closed for awhile), Brad and I moved our desk in here and set it right in front of the window. This is the view I now have as I sit and write...

I'm not going to take any other pictures of the room's still a work in progress. I'm looking for a comfy chaise lounge type chair to put in here along with a nice set of shelves. We're going to keep Hannah's academic awards hanging on the wall where she put them, and her bulletin board is still up with all the stuff she stuck on it. We're planning to mount a hook on the wall and hang her letter jacket on it. On one entire wall, we hung a Disciple Now '07 banner that was signed by the members of Hannah's youth group after she went to Heaven. So there is still a lot of Hannah in this room, and it feels really good to be in here. I love that there is life and light in this room again!

"For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light, we see light." Psalm 36:9


Sarah said...

Bethany's room looks amazing! Thank you for sharing the description of what you found, makes me smile :) love you!

Kelley's Kids said...

Bethany's room is so pretty and very special with her sister's things. I know how hard that was, my heart goes out to you.

I love the view you have now, so beautiful.

Thinking and praying for you - Kelley
Your new friend in Texas :)

Laurie and Jerry Wood said...

you girls didn't need any help at all with bethany's room. the color choice is just striking with the black/white bedding. the furniture placement looks perfect! so welcoming and youthful, just like beth. i know this was an extremely emotional task. i love the view you now have for your desk. hannah will always be with you, whichever room you are in -- but this room will forever be "Hannah's room"... i believe you will find new inspiration for your writing, your sharing, your ministry work...for all things in this space!

Lynn said...

Jill, such a touching story. You did a wonderful job describing Hannah's room, the process of cleaning it out, and your heart! We are in the process of moving my son four hours away to college leaving our house with two empty bedrooms. These empty rooms leave an emptiness in my heart, and I cry over them. I cannot begin to imagine the emptiness you have felt in your heart or the tears you have shed over your empty room. Your friend, Lynn.