My husband and I are in the middle of quite a big move from a residence of six years and two children to a new home across town. It might as well be across the country though, as we’re transferring schools and cities and counties even. So even though it’s 30 minutes away, it requires a move of almost the same proportions.
Packing with two young children and working full time has brought on its share of challenges. But it’s also been a great opportunity to purge so many things we thought were important many years ago. For instance, I wanted to show my future daughter so many of my collectible items or dolls and pass them down. But now, with no daughters in our life, they are really just collecting dust. A memento of a family trip or a Cabbage Patch doll really doesn’t carry the same weight it did 32 years ago.
My husband and I have enjoyed opening boxes to find our high school yearbooks, images from before we knew one another. We’ve been laughing and sharing stories and even finding preschool and grade school report cards. Knowing that at my oldest son’s age I excelled in preschool but got in trouble for talking is a pretty direct prediction for what is to come with his progress report in a few weeks. We’re both not starving when it comes to communication. But nonetheless, it’s been fun walking down memory lane.
One box I have moved with me a few times but has always been on my shelf unopened is from a lawyer who represented me in my lawsuit against Honda for my airbag case. Having permanent vision loss from an airbag, that box represents a lot of hard times and negativity for me that I never wanted to reopen. I contemplated not taking it to the next house, even burning it in our burn barrel outside. But I figured if there were ever advances in medicine enough to replace my vision and eye, it might be nice to have a summary of what all happened in one easy-to-find box.
Last night though, I opened it. I prepared myself for the instant depression or sadness that I assumed would wash over me as I saw the images I’d avoided for a long time. Photos of airbags, my face, my eye. Medical records as thick as novels and letters from insurance companies to doctors to lawyers, all outlining the grave condition.
Mixed in with those records I found cards and emails from friends I’d kept. They were beautiful letters to how I would and could overcome the injury. I’m so thankful I kept them because their words rang so true. I found myself enjoying those letters as I’d forgotten I even had them. At one point I wanted to throw every and anything away that had to do with the wreck.
I kept expecting sadness or tears or some emotion to overcome me. Even realizing the words on the page of permanent blindness, future potential for X disease or X complications, I felt nothing. Because in the big picture, this box represented one of 100 in my bonus room upstairs that had 99 other wonderful memories. How could I let one box take over me in a way the others didn’t? Why would this box be any more powerful than the one with photos from church camp and high school parties?
Most important is the fact that while packing, I am surrounded by the reminder that I overcame it. My friend Betsy’s words from her card rang true, 11 years later. I had moved on in such a wonderful way. Because right next to the box of childhood memories and my legal files, was a pack and play box. Next to that was a slew of kids’ birthday party decorations I keep hanging on to. And next to that, my wedding box of invitations, flower ideas, guest lists and photos.
Those are the memories that matter. For every ounce of negative energy I spent hating my wreck, I’ve enjoyed 10X that much joy in my life. And to think of all I’ve been blessed with since then gives me far greater happiness. Two amazing kids, a supportive loving husband who is still my best friend, a fabulous job I love and now, a new home in an area I can’t wait to move to. The predictions my doctors made aren’t coming true. I’m not in eternal hell or pain or struggling. And that’s not to say I don’t have really dark days or hard times. Because I do. I still have nights where I can’t drive in the dark or random eye pain.
But I have the support system of those friends who got me through it, and those who are still here today. And when those harder days make their way through, it’s that network of people who move me forward. There’s no need to open the box and feel sadness of what I lost. Looking at images of my mauled face used to bring on tears. Today it just feels unfortunate, but it’s only one of several big moments in life.
I’ve avoided opening the literal Pandora’s box for 9 years now. The last correspondence from my attorney was in 2007 and I have had that box sealed all this time. SO much of it I didn’t even remember or swore I’d never seen before, which makes me even happier because it was my handwriting.
I’m so thankful for all who’ve helped me move forward and onward. Whether you were there in 2004 with phones calls, or today, picking me up from the doctor’s office when I get my eyes dilated, or even my coworkers who’ve quit throwing candy across the cubes for fear I’ll get hit in my good eye. You all help in some way and I can never thank you enough. Because opening that box and not feeling anything I thought I’d feel, is more of a reward than any financial settlement or lawsuit can provide.