Day 14: The Box

January 14th, 2013 § 5 comments

Today’s post is not about cancer. This post, about grief, still affects me every time I read it. I am hoping that those of you new to the site are finding this month of re-posts to be a good introduction to my writing. Hopefully it’s allowing you to see some of the life experiences that have gotten me to where I am. It’s been very interesting for me to go back and re-examine so much of my writing through this new lens of metastatic cancer.

This post was written the day after my beloved mother-in-law’s sudden death in a car crash.


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,
From beneath her bed,
The bright kaleidoscope patterned paper
Caught her eye.

I heard the sobs,
The wails,
The primal,

“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,

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.

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.

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.

§ 5 Responses to Day 14: The Box"

  • Profound. “It’s been very interesting for me to go back and re-examine so much of my writing through this new lens of metastatic cancer.”

    As difficult as it is to describe what grief is, you have done that with this piece. A masterpiece. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved mother-in-law and for the pain it has brought to you and your family.

  • Sarah says:

    I vividly remember reading this 3 years ago. My emotional response was the same today. I love you, sweet Paige, Clarke, Colin, and Tristan.

  • Susan says:

    What a beautiful piece and I am so sorry for the loss of your mother-in law. I think it is interesting looking back especially when this kind of grief is so sudden. It reminds us too of how special life is and our lives can turn on a dime. It is a powerful post.

  • Karyn Toso says:

    Lisa, these past two weeks of reposts have been more than a good introduction to your writing; they have been a window into the beautiful heart of a new “friend.” Am listening and learning and feeling along with you. Thank you for sharing these.

  • Katherine C. James says:

    I’d never lost a beloved person in my life unexpectedly before 2005. Since then I’ve lost three. Initially, particularly with my beloved brother-in-law, the grief was almost unsupportable, but over time, though the longing to have the person back never ends, it does soften, and, at least in my case, I realize I continue a relationship with the person in my heart and mind. Death is a part of life, which I both resist and understand. I have always wanted to love each person I do love as well as I can each day we have. The losses in my life have intensified that desire. I am sorry for your loss. Barbara was obviously a key person in many lives

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