Based on “The Things,” by Donald Hall
The package arrived on a Saturday
An odd-shaped box, tall, vertical
I reached down inside to find an odd mix of things she didn’t want anymore, but didn’t want to throw away.
I had asked for that eagle that used to hang over our door growing up. It was something popular around the bicentennial, and I had seen one recently on a neighbor’s house while out walking, and mentioned it in passing as a point of nostalgia.
So she wrapped it in bubble wrap and surrounded it in the box with knickknacks – a small wooden duck, a bag of costume jewelry, and an envelope.
Inside the envelope were contents of file folders she must not have really looked through, for there were school papers from my childhood, notes I had written, and unassumingly, a letter-sized document on card stock with a baby’s footprint. A birth certificate. And, next, a death certificate.
This was my sister, who I never knew and had only wished for. The infant Kerin, spelled like my daughter’s name with a K in front of it. I had never seen this name before.
I touched the tiny print, imagining who this sister would have been – what my life would be like if she had lived.
And I considered the mother who would unknowingly toss this treasure into an envelope, and realized how she learned to move on.