The Box Is History

It’s gone. That box that I have talked out in a couple of blog posts (here and here) and that I have been packing around for fifteen years, is finally gone.

I opened it up, looked superficially at the contents, and decided there was too much to sort through.

Inside the box were three big ring binders; one full of medical information and two full of emails. There was also a box of miscellany, including the notebooks Geoff kept while he was in the hospital at various times and a lot of Get Well Soon cards, birthday cards, and some anniversary cards. I did sort through and discard most of the cards, but the rest was just a wall of documents. What had begun as an aid to my memory had become a burden.

You would think it would be easy to make a decision about this box, but it wasn’t. First, there was so much emotional energy and years of my life represented by all that stuff that it felt like a part of me. How do you cut off a piece of yourself?

Second, the writer in me thought that this would be a mine of information for a project; perhaps a memoir, or maybe just a chapter in a memoir. I have long since forgotten the chronology of events over the seven years and ten months of Geoff’s illness, but it was all there in the box. I could just refer to the data, couldn’t I? Well, no. It turns out that wasn’t easy for me to do. I couldn’t open up the data without opening myself up to all the heartache.

The hoarder in me said, “Well, if you can’t use it, maybe someone else can,” and I started to fantasize about the possibility of some other writer being able to put it to good use. But, yesterday, I decided I was fooling myself. No-one would want to read through that mountain of material in the hopes of finding some usable nuggets. So, the box had to go. Instead of a bridge to creativity, it had become an anchor.

When my eldest son dropped by yesterday, I asked him to take the box from me. I had been looking at it for a few days and gradually building up enough frustration and resentment that I was ready to let it go. I showed him what was in there, and he showed some interest in Geoff’s notebooks. Otherwise, he just looked surprised at the quantity of emails I had saved. Looking at his face and the casual way that he flipped through the pages, I realized how redundant it all was.

So, the box is gone. My son took it away and I have no idea what he is going to do with its contents. He may look through it, he may take out a few items, or he may just take the whole thing to the dump. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. I’m just glad it’s not my problem any more. In fact, it isn’t anyone’s problem. It’s just a box of old papers.


  1. Congrats! That was no easy feat. My thoughts are that when you do write your memoir, the medical minutiae won’t be the aspect to write about, but how you felt, what you experienced is what will be important to capture.

  2. I feel so proud of you, my friend. I also realize how blessed I may be that there is no such box of Frank’s things for me to worry over. You have let go and now you can move forward as you see fit. Love to you.

  3. Good for you! It’s like that feeling you had as a kid when you got a new pair of trainers/pumps and the instant you put them on you just knew they made you run faster! Freedom ….

  4. Soooo understandable and so brave of you! I remember opening boxes of memories (none as tragic as yours). when I was moving….. and tossing many…… I tend to save too much… I tossed so much…… So much kudos to you!!

  5. Well Done, I am so proud of you and keep in mind, it’s never who we are, it’s simply something we did or experienced. You are still whole and complete. I hope by weighing your anchor will open up something entirely new, unexpected and lovely growth.

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