her life fit in a cardboard box

I work part time for a packaging and shipping franchise, and we get all sorts of requests to ship all sorts of things but this one shipment really got to me.

The maintenance man of a nearby apartment complex came in the other day with a hodge podge of moving boxes full of things just tossed in.  He wanted to know how much it would cost to have them repackaged and shipped.  As we stood there grunting and heaving the boxes onto the scales together and inventorying the contents, the story started to emerge.

A young single mother in her 30’s mixed alcohol and some medications and passed away.  Her elderly mother wanted the items shipped to herself several states away.  Those few boxes were all that was left after her clothes and furniture were donated.  They were literally, her personal effects.  Pictures in frames with layers of dust and grime, old battered windchimes, a dozen different translations of the Bible, all well read and littered with bookmarks.  Daily journals, self-help books and dozens of angel figurines.  A packet of letters tied in a ribbon, and a single baby shoe.  A handful of snapshots, creased and bent and shoved hastily in a book, and a dead plant.  A barstool someone painted with her name on it.

In the end, her life was reduced to four 24x24x24 shipping boxes and a few hundred pounds of mementos.  And in the end, her army of angels and words of faith were just so much rubble in the bottom of a box.  And now I find my mind wandering back to her, wondering what the rest of her story was.


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