Taping the Box
I have done a lot of difficult things in my day. And I have survived plenty of unspeakable circumstances. So one would think that a simple task like taping a box would be easy. Not so.
I packed the contents with absolute care. Folding some. Rolling others. Fitting them together so that no damage would be done ~ as if that were possible any longer. And I lined up the box tops so that there would be no gap, no empty, no space, no longing.
But before I could seal it I was compelled to open it again and take each item out ‘just to be sure’. I did this on and off throughout the morning hours between laundry and rocking and work meetings and crying and errands and calls to my healers and friends to help me find my center again.
I ran the cloth through my fingers to really feel it and images flashed of times and places when I had no idea that a box would be needed. In those days I dreamt of a ceremony to come barefoot in a rock garden in Lake Placid instead. I placed my photo inside the book of poetry I gave to him and on the page with the poem that made us both laugh out loud together by candlelight once-upon-a-time. And, setting aside my fear of being ridiculed, I will even admit that I smelled the sweatshirt from his Dublin marathon that I have had for years which seemed a pathetic echo of a scene from a play that we saw together not so long ago. We laughed the day of that reading but, I assure you, it is not at all funny when you are desperate to hold someone close with the little that you have left ~ your nose, your hands, your memory. It smelled of familiarity and sadness; the latter being the one that nearly killed me.
Each and every time I checked the box it was all still there. Just like the time before. And the time before that. And yet something seemed to be missing.
I read the letter. Re-read the letter. Re-re-read the letter and contemplated if it said everything I wanted it to say. It did not. And it became achingly clear with each reading that it never could.
I carefully removed the simple handwritten note that said “You are amazing!” from the wall over my desk because I was saddened by the possibility that he no longer felt this way about me. It was written in bold strokes with clear black ink and had been there since January of 2010. The paper had worn thin with time where the tape once held it. Opaque corners. Holes even. Damaged as it was taken from its comfortable station where it greeted me every day for more than five years. Those three words made fighting for what I wanted seem worth it. I returned it to him because I didn’t know what else to do. It was too precious to discard and too painful to keep. And perhaps someday soon it will be intended for someone else. This was the last item I added to the box.
As for the Yankees hat that we passed back and forth lovingly and by ritual each time we parted to live in our separate cities again? I left that out of the box at his request. We had agreed that when we were old and gray that the one left behind would keep it to help soothe the sorrow. I hope he at least wanted it but I suppose I will never know for sure. With great distress I set it above my desk (replacing the note that once lived there) and, in that moment, realized that what was missing from the box was closure and that no amount of time or searching would yield this.
So, I lined up the box tops again this time pressing the tape roller to the side. I held my breath anticipating the focus and energy that would be needed to see this task through; like pushing during labor but without the joyous result. The tape slipped from the guides and adhered to itself with vehemence. I found myself picking the edges and unraveling a mess like so many times in our history because there was something important at stake. And, on the next many attempts, the tape refused to adhere to the cardboard at all. Flat out fucking refused. What was the Universe telling me? Perhaps that I was trying to end something that wasn’t supposed to end. Particularly not by way of US Postal priority with no signature required.
With ingenuity and great personal injury I sealed it anyway; this box filled with familiarity, possibility, and sadness…but no closure. And, as I left the house to deliver it, a box in kind sat upon my doorstep.
And then I mailed it anyway despite ~ and because of ~ how much I love him.