Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Drawers

Underneath my bed, there are two drawers.
They are made of plastic, and they are not beautiful.
They are full of the things that have no place, and that must be kept.
Inside the boxes are a legacy of sorts, the evidence and markers of a time I cannot recall.
Tonight, I went to the boxes. The photo in my pendant had fallen out, and I needed a new one to replace it. What always happens, happened.
I opened the drawer, searching specifically for the photo.
I found it straight away, knowing just where it was among the clutter of cards, notes, notices, newspaper clippings, and extra birth announcements that were never mailed.
I set it aside on the smooth pine floor, brushing aside the stray dust bunnies that emerged with the opening drawer.
I almost closed the drawer, and then didn't.
I began to read.

The drawer I was looking in tonight was, in fact, a drawer I hadn't looked in for some time. At one point, I went through our almost 300 sympathy cards and I sorted out the "good" ones, the ones that really drew me to tears and sucked me right back to that place of merciless agony. Some were from good friends and family, while others were from mere acquaintances or strangers who emerged from the woodwork, knowing we needed their strength, offering words of kindness, support, and love. I read the cards often, mesmerised by the words of those people who could hardly think of what to write, I'm sure.

There were also, however, numerous other cards that were less provocotive: sympathy cards with a pre-printed message that were just signed, short notes from work acquaintances that weren't as meaningful, and tags that had accompanied floral arrangements and deliveries that I couldn't bear to part with. But I hadn't gone in this box, the one with the cards from the less important people. These are what I began to read tonight. It made me so happy to do so. I read the tags, the labels, the cards, and realized that so many people I had completely forgotten about had reached out to us when Charlotte died, not knowing what to do, but knowing they must do something. I read with something close to guilt:
Did you know Sean and Joann sent us flowers, I said to Greg? I wouldn't have known how to answer if you'd asked me if they sent a card.
It warmed my heart again, a second time, to have forgotten completely about these reaches of hope and love, and then to suddenly discover them again, all over again, and feel supported.
I sat for some time, as I always do when I open the drawers, and I went into a kind of trance, flipping from one card to the next, imagining the poor recipients of all this sympathy as if they were someone else's family.
Finally I closed the drawers.
Returned to life.

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