I hadn’t thought of her for years. In a way I hadn’t wanted to think of her. It only made the pain worse and too overwhelming. But, I suppose you don’t always get to choose whether you remember, do you? I was rustling through the bottom of my wardrobe when I found the box hidden in the back corner. It was coated in a thin layer of dust like softly fallen snowflakes, Jessie’s favourite sight in winter.
This certain plain navy shoebox was more than what it seemed from the outside, as within were hidden items that I hadn’t looked at for over 20 years. As I picked it carefully out I hesitated while a rush of emotions flooded over me. Despair, grief and also fondness at what else I recalled of her. The 6th August 1993 was imprinted in my mind. I could still remember the phone ringing in the hall as I finished my coursework...
Struck back to reality I moved to place the shoebox back down before turning to leave the room. Yet, the memories were too wilful to be pushed down. Mrs Jepson sobbing down the phone as she recounted what the police had told her. “An icy road, Jessie not wearing a seatbelt…” These were the only words I needed to be told to guess what had happened, and the explanation of Mrs Jepson’s tears. Back in my bedroom again, I could feel the box calling out to me, like a shell calling for the sea in its soft whispers. After a deep inhale I turned back towards the box and once it was in my hands became calm again. As if I was a puppet being controlled I slowly lifted the lid from the box.
On the top of the explosion of writing, colour and pictures was the single card I had been given at her funeral. Her smiling blue eyes and golden hair falling like soft trellises down her face overshadowed any writing on the page. Jessie would always be remembered with this young face, never growing old.
I spent the next part of an hour looking and reading through the endless scribbled notes passed between us in lessons that overflowed from the box. Many of them had been placed in this box months after her death; found in coat pockets or scattered around my room. Some moaned about the boring cover teacher or were excited about our sleepover the next night, and amongst the birthday cards or letters were small crazy photo booth pictures.
Within this regular shoebox was a priceless memorial to her, my best friend, and all the great times we had enjoyed. A few tears of joy and remembrance slipped down my face, yet in this little instant I knew that there was no point trying to forget anymore. Yes, she was gone, but somehow, through this little shoebox, a small piece of her would always be alive.