Monday, October 25, 2010
In search of my friend Sarah
I have a new friend, I am calling her a friend because I know way too much about her, more than I know about many of my good friends. I know her fears, her joy's, her life. I shouldn't know all these things but I do. This is going to be long but bare with me, it's emotional, and hope in the end rewarding. Was it destiny that I would be the one to end up apart of her life, or just some strange coincidence? I can't even begin to figure it out. Nor have I come to the end of this journey yet. I have played out every scenario in my mind...how did this happen???? Maybe one day I will know the end of the story, maybe I will just be an elf that will drop it off, ring the doorbell and run, because I am not sure what the ending will be and don't know if I want to. I just know what I have to do.
Rewind to Tuesday. I got a call to do a job. Simple- clean out a rented garage that the renter left behind things they no longer wanted. They quit paying rent several years ago- came and removed what they wanted and left the rest. There it sat for several years, I am told, the roof began to leak, no one noticed?? No one cared??? Finally, the roof was repaired, but the "stuff" remained. Full of spiders, mold, dust, the makings of a place with the doors closed that things could remain forgotten.
Ok, I can do this job- no problem. A couple of hours of back breaking labor a few bucks- I'm in. I've done a half a dozen of these kind of jobs, just another day. Turning the key and pushing the garage door button to let the light in, I didn't know this was the beginning of a journey.
A quick scan of the surrounding....a couple of bikes, dressers, crib, boxes, books. A dumpster full at most. You know me, I must investigate every box, because you never know.... I might find something I can't live without. I'm a Junker at heart so boxes hold treasures no matter how small. Boy, was I in for a surprise. My mind wandered to the storage unit that holds my belongings. Would they ever get to this point? Would they be forgotten and left to be disposed of?? Would someone open the lid of each bin and go through my things? A stranger deciding what they would like to take home and what should be dumped???? The thought horrified me as I began to see who this garage full of stuff belonged to. I must tell you, my things are not anything like what I am going to find, but they are my treasures none the less. So yes, Monday, when I venture to where my belongs live, I am going to reclaim them like a lost friend and bring them home where they belong. Maybe I will have peace in my heart my chapter will be over and I can put it to rest. I think I can and this journey is going to help me as much as my journey will help strangers I don't even know.
Pardon me, I have to go get a Kleenex.......
Where do I start? Those 2 big red storage boxes. Off comes the top of the first one. The wedding box. The first thought that ran through my mind as I began to lift each object out and look them over was, must be a divorce, no one wanted these unhappy memories to be reminded of a marriage gone bad. The wedding planner book, packed full of papers, notes, plans.... the pictures, the cards, the DRESS! I pulled the dress out-looks like it's in good shape. Take home pile...who knows what I could do with this? Something I'm sure. Everything else.... lid back on-dumpster. Sarah was married in 1992. I knew the names of her bridesmaids, I saw the invitation, I saw the joy. What went wrong???
Big red box #2. Off comes the lid. This box will change everything. Even my life.
Opened a small box, inside a guest book from a funeral. I slowly opened the pages flipping through it quickly. Lots of names, any I know, yes a few. I went back to the opening pages. The pallbearers listed, back a page, the deceased. Sarah! I quickly looked at the date of birth and date of death. Oh my she was only 33....what happened????? December 2000 she died. My heart sank. I had to know what happened. I went back to the wedding box. It had a whole new meaning to me. This was no divorce, this was death til we part. This box was now in the take home pile. The wedding dress was carefully put back into the box, I would never be wondering what to do with it anymore, it was no longer mine to dispose of.
The funeral box was full of things that led me on a journey through Sarahs short life, but a happy life up until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. This I know, because I read the beginning pages of her journal. The day the doctor gave her the news. I felt like I was invading her privacy, but yet, I felt I had to find out her story. As I painfully looked the things I found out- she had 3 young children. Letters to her daughter, homemade mother’s day cards from her young son. Many greeting cards from well wishers trying to cheer her up during her 2 year battle. Pictures of Sarah with hat covering her head to cover up the fact that she didn't have any hair. A picture of her and her husband and on the back handwritten to each of her children dated Jan 2000- love mom and dad. My emotions were being sucked out of me. As I dug deeper, high school diplomas, college sorority, drivers license, treasures, memories of the births of her children. Original birth certificates, christening clothing, ultrasound pictures, rosary all destined for the dumpster. Deep breath......
I began to go through each item. I found a note to her husband...
"please do not throw out save for the kids.... I love you, my one and only forever. xoxox Sarah."
How could he???? I might never know the answer to that question. I don't think I want to know.
I repacked each item. Don't worry Sarah, I won't throw them out. I am saving them for your children. I have the most important events in Sarahs life in a 4 foot long box.
I had to leave, I was filled with so many emotions and my mind was filled with so many questions. I locked the door behind me and went home. I will be back. I took home the small water logged box that had written on the top.
Save for Sarahs children. I know her children. A girl and 2 boys. I know their names, I know the day's they were born, the hospital. I have held in my hands the wrist bands that encircled their tiny arms. I've seen their birth certificates, I know who brought them gifts, I held up their Christening outfits, .... I know too much. They are now 15, 14 and 13. My heart breaks.
I am home, a few more boxes to go through. Stuff, this is just stuff. Some pots and pans, paper towel holder, small George Foreman grill, candle holder or two, mismatched coffee cups... Stuff. Nothing sentimental here. Now the box for Sarahs Children. Wrapped in Newspaper... I have to know the date. October 2003. 7 years ago almost to the date. Why were they packing up Sarahs stuff to put in storage? Did the family move, did the husband remarry???? My brain is full of questions. As I unwrapped each item I found formal china. It must have been a wedding gift. Each place setting accounted for, but dirty and moldy. I washed them all and laid them on my dining room table. I wonder if she ever got to use them? They meant enough that they were tagged to go to her children. I will carefully, repack them in a new box. They are going home where they belong.
2 days later I went back to finish the job. Many things were damaged by the dampness and in the dumpster they went. I swept out the floor and the job was done. Only thing left was the big red box all by itself in a big empty garage. I loaded it in the car. I will take it home and get on the internet. I have a name, that's all I need. Sarah, I won't disappoint you....what I have left of your life will get to the greatest loves of your life, your 3 little ones. Now that they are growing up they can look into your heart and see how much you loved them! The universe, a strange place. Sarah you came into my life at a time where I needed you as much as you needed me.
Rest in Peace my new friend.
*To view Sarah's story in its entirety follow the links below