The Box

The box sits in my home office. The colorful files inside it are visible through the opaque plastic lid. Inside the colorful files are all the documents related to my sister’s estate: legal documents, paid bills, journals, a calendar, a checkbook, a passport. The papers inside represent the events of the last year and a half. There are copies of her death certificate, correspondence with various agencies, final copies of transactions, notes on the process of clearing, settling, selling, distributing–all the things you have to document, tend to, and keep when you are the responsible party.

The box is full. All the necessary forms have been submitted and filed. No more loose ends or things left to do.

I walked into my office this morning and looked at the box. The box holds all the things that needed to be done, needed to be filed, needed to be arranged and taken care of.

Now, the box only reminds me of her. What I wanted or needed to keep of hers–the calendar, the journals, the personal things–are all in there, behind the tax returns, the legal documents, the final payments. The end of a sixty-six year journey, and it all fits in this box.

I think the time has come to take the box from my office and put it away. I don’t need to see the box to be reminded of her. I am reminded of her somehow every day.

But the box is a testament to all that had to be done–despite the waves of grief, despite the sadness, despite the empty feeling I am left with. It represents the way she trusted me to take care of things for her, the way she wanted those things done, the way she knew I would somehow find the strength to do those things.

The box contains the final details of a life cut short. I don’t need the daily reminder of all that transpired after her life ended.

Her life was too big, too full, to fit into any box, let alone this one.


I’m putting the box away today. Tomorrow, I’ll probably look at the space where it once was and acknowledge that a new phase has begun.

the box

12 Responses to The Box

  1. Lisa Taylor says:

    My mother passed away in May of this year. She (and my deceased step-father), was a hoarder, and also had Alzheimer’s during her last couple of years. Her house, the storage units, barns, sheds, are filled to the rafters with items. Some new with price tags, some mouldering in boxes. There is vermin and filth in too many places. The financial side of her “estate” (such a grand word for what it is), is a mess. I’ve spent hundreds of hours cleaning and clearing, dozens talking to this bank or that collection officer. My grief, I fear, has turned to anger and a sense of imprisonment. I’m so looking forward to the time you speak of – when I can put “that box” away, and re-enter my life!

    • Risa Nye says:

      Oh, Lisa–I’m so sorry you have to go through all of this. I hope that some day soon you can get to that re-entry point! Thanks for sharing your comment. I’ve very sympathetic!

  2. penpen says:

    When we downsized (oops: rightsized is the politically correct term!) this spring I had to go through and discard much of what was in the boxes i had stored in my basement. Some were stuffed with my mother’s memorabilia and others with my mother-in-law’s–both of which included photos and other papers from the dads. It is a heart-stopping journey. Those photos and bits and pieces of paper — letters, documents– brought back the immediacy of their lives. So hang on to that box that holds your sister’s things. Out of sight but never out of mind. and always worth a visit.

  3. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    The box represents another part of your sister that is hard to let go. I’m thinking of you and wishing you peace.

  4. Barb McKinnon says:

    The boxes from 5 relatives are still in the attic after many years of cutting down on the size of what was kept. I’m about to revisit things this Fall. I think of them all often because they were closest friends and allies. Glad you are able to move on. Best always, Barb

  5. So beautiful, Risa. I’ll be thinking of you and sending hugs your way to fill you up for those times you glance at the empty space where the box once stood. Best wishes in this new phase.

  6. What a touching piece. A lovely tribute. Would make your sister proud.

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