She folded up the last of her mother’s shirts and put it in the cardboard box marked Charity. It was exactly the way she had wanted it, the box written in her own handwriting. It was strange and sad to Cecelia, seeing her mother’s words and instructions written so carefully on the box lids and on post-it notes.
Give this to your cousin Jason, he needs it.
The pink square rested on one of her mother’s bibles. Cecelia couldn’t help but smile. No doubt, Jason would appreciate his aunt’s humor even beyond the grave.
As she stripped the house to its bones, she dwelt on the fact that she was an orphan now. Her father had passed away three years prior, a heart attack, sudden and shocking. That was a hard year. The realization that her parents were no longer young was a blow that Cecelia wouldn’t have time to recover from. Cecelia’s mother had received the news of her cancer, terminal, only a few weeks before. They had clutched hands as they remembered him in the front rows of the pews, as friends and strangers told the wonderful things about him. It wouldn’t be the last time. When her mom went through her first and third and fifth round of chemo, Cecelia was there. Her mom retched and moaned and slept and Cecelia never left her side, turning her mother’s aging hands in her own.
It was strange to see them so worn, wrinkled and spotted with age. She never quite expected it, for her parents to age so fast. It felt too soon, it felt so soon. She breathed in the still air of the bedroom. The upstairs was packed away. She took the boxes down the stairs, a descent back to reality. There were a few more things to send away. The bookshelf her grandfather made would go to her uncle. The china would go to her daughter, newly married and starting fresh.
Her eyes caught the note on the piano. She tried to keep herself from crying again, but as she ran her fingers over the well oiled wood, she peeled the note from its top, she couldn’t help but dissolve once more.
For my daughter, my baby. Thank you, for all of it. I love you.
She remembered the curl of her mother’s laughter. Of those hands, slow, moving over the piano keys, telling a song the way she would tell a story. Of the rise and fall of the music, filling the now empty house and the silence of now. The silence that told a new story, of loss and memories and of pink slips of paper spreading over a room like the last notes on a page.