During Lent, our church has a soup lunch after each Sunday’s service. We gather in the Calvin Room (fellowship hall) for a bowl of soup, some bread, and table talk about the previous week’s devotional. This year we are studying Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Members sign up to bring a pot of soup or a loaf of bread. Yesterday I made turkey pot pie soup and biscuits for my contribution. I needed a box that would hold the soup pot so as to carry it to church without spilling or burning my hands. None of the boxes in the garage, where I keep a fairly large supply, were adequate. Too big or too small. Too deep or too shallow.
I went through the house, looking for something that might work with that big soup pot. There, sitting on the bottom shelf of the guest room was this box. I knew it was there, but I don’t look in it or touch it except to dust around it. You see, it has the contents of my friend’s purse and desk. My friend who died at Thanksgiving in 2011. For five years that box has sat there, on that bottom shelf. I’ve looked in it a couple of times and moved on. Now, if I was going to use the box, I had to do something about the contents.
I dumped the items on the bed. A mirror, a car registration, a calendar, index cards, greeting cards, stickers, notepads. A magnifying glass. A handful of paperclips. Just seeing these things that my friend of over 30 years had carried and used made me tear up. I sat down on the bed and opened the calendar. It fell open to that fateful November. All those doctor’s appointments. Then the week in the rehab unit. More appointments in December that she would never keep. I sat and wept.
If I kept the memories in the box, hidden, they didn’t hurt so much. Dumping them out like that made it all come rushing back. The friendship, the good times, and the bad times when her health deteriorated to the point we couldn’t do our usual lunches or trips. Her handwriting is in that calendar and on a few slips of paper. Since I no longer get cards from her (she was great at remembering everyone’s birthday, anniversary, and other holidays), I’m going to keep the cards she never sent and read her calendar notes to help me remember her.
Five years. One would think the pain would be less, and I guess it is, but it’s still sharp when I see that box’s contents. I did use the box for the soup, but I made sure to bring it back home so I can put the contents back into it and put it back on the bottom shelf.