The Box

March 6th, 2011 § 4 comments

Written September 17, 2009

She went up to bed tonight,
Still pink-eyed and shaky.
Finally calmed enough to hopefully get some rest.
And as she walked into her room,
Somehow,
From beneath her bed,
The bright kaleidoscope patterned paper
Caught her eye.

I heard the sobs,
The wails,
The primal,
yearning,
cry.

“My birthday present.
From Grandma.
The one she gave me early.”
She stood pointing at it,
Gaze averted,
Like a child pointing at a dead
Animal in the middle of the road.

Together we looked.
And then all at once it hit me.
I knew what she was talking about.

Two weeks ago,
When my in-laws were visiting,
Paige’s grandmother had given her a wrapped box
And said,
“This is for your birthday.
Put it somewhere safe.
Don’t open it until October 28th.
I know it’s something you’ll like,
But you have to wait until then,
Okay?”

And so,
Because that’s the kind of 10-year old she is,
Paige didn’t peek,
Or lift the corner of the paper,
Or ask her brother what was in it.

Instead,
She carefully put it under her bed
To wait until October.

We had no way of knowing we’d never see Grandma
Again.
No way of knowing that was the last present that would be
Bought.
No way of knowing that a truck which had no business
Trying to pass anyone,
Much less several vehicles at once,
Would slam head-on into my in-laws’ car and kill our
Loved one.

Tonight,
The very sight of the box,
And the thought of its giver,
Brought her to tears,
Racked her with sobs,
Riddled her with grief,
Filled her with anger,
And sadness,
And loss,
And pain,
And confusion,
And did the very same
To me.

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§ 4 Responses to The Box"

  • Patti Wunder says:

    Beautifully written and painful to read.
    A reminder to count the gifts we have in our family and loved ones.

    When my maternal grandmother, Nanny, was in the final stages of cancer, she called each of her granddaughters into her bedroom to spend a few private moments. She also had divided all of her baubles and trinkets into small packages, treasures, for each of us. The biggest gift was being able to have that private time with her and listen to her explain why she had chosen each for me. Every once in a while I stumble across one of those baubles by surprise, and I get teary even now… 22 years later.

    As always, thank you for sharing.

  • All loss hurts, but I think the unexpected loss is especially painful at times. I’m so sorry.

  • Oof. I just don’t know what to say. I am so sorry. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

  • Karen McClure says:

    Thank you, Lisa. That was lovely and speaks beautifully to that fundamental truth we all seem to have so much trouble remembering: no one knows how much time any of us has in this life and we must embrace and celebrate our own lives and those of our loved ones every day. Cheers.

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