09:40:11 am on
Sunday 24 Oct 2021

No More Boxes
AJ Robinson

Source: ajrobinson family archives

I have a little box on my desk. It’s nearly empty. I got it a month or so ago from the company receptionist. She has a bunch of them in the office supply closet.

It’s a box of tissues.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had cause to use the contents of that box, a great deal. It’s funny, what can set me off. Sometimes almost nothing can do it.

I listen to music on my phone to pass the time as I work. Got some earbuds so I don’t bother my co-workers. Occasionally, a song plays that makes me think of her, my mother.

That’s when my emotions swell inside me. It’s kind of funny some of the songs that set me off. Many of them have absolutely nothing to do with mom, mothers in general or anything remotely related to care giving and the sorts of things you typically associate with mother.

When The Pretenders song, I’ll stand By You, comes on, I fall apart. Guess it has something to do with the idea that that’s what moms do. They stand by their kids, no matter what.

Yes, that’s what my mom did and so I have to reach for the box. Oh, and do not get me started on Fernando, as sung by Cher. I could write a whole story about that one. As I recall, I did. You can find it on this site.

I guess I’m lucky that I work in an engineering office. My immediate co-workers are all young men. They tend to keep to themselves, focus on their work and listen to their own music.

Short of me collapsing to the floor, I don’t think they pay much attention to anything I do, especially as I’m not a lovely young woman. So, when my emotions overwhelm me and I, again, need to reach for that box, they are blissfully unaware.

I have my privacy.

Yet, I have noticed that although the box is nearly empty, I haven’t been reaching for it all that often these days. I guess that’s a good thing. After all, isn’t that what people say, you must get beyond your grief and move on?

Yes, you do, you do have to do that, and I’ve done it before for grandparents, my dad, brothers, and other special people in my life. You must learn to live with the passing of another loved one. Live with, but not actually get over.

Somehow, it feels different this time. It’s my mom. She is quite the different sort of person to lose from my life.

Although I’m glad that I’m not falling apart every other day and even sometimes several times a day, I must wonder: is it too soon? I know that everyone grieves in their own fashion. Is there some minimum time I should feel my heart and soul torn asunder when I think of her?

Three months. Is that too short? I don’t know, but in an odd way, I am glad to be dealing with her loss better than a month ago. Now I speak of her in the past tense and don’t wince.

I talk of some of her antic; I smile and laugh. There’s a slight twinge to my heart, but I don’t get choked up. I’m able to share those wonderful joyous memories with other people.

That’s a good thing, right?

The box is nearly empty. I don’t think I’ll need another one. I’m glad of that and sad and guess that’s how I should feel.

I’m starting the process of moving on. Yet, the pain is still there. I don’t suppose it’ll ever truly go away. I’m okay with that.

The adoption of our foster son is coming up and I know mom was so looking forward to that. On that day, I’ll think of her and the ache will grow. Will I fall apart? That remains to be seen.

Thanksgiving and Christmas this year won’t include my brother Greg or mom. It’s a true one-two punch, which I’m sure will hurt deeply. How will I deal with both events?

Again, it remains to be seen, but I tend to think the pain will dim just a little more. That’s because that’s what happens, that’s what we do. I most sincerely hope I won’t be dealing with anymore loss anytime soon.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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