In my case, it arrived thirty years later, on a Tuesday in January surrounded by palm trees and sunshine. My husband had brought in some boxes for me to unpack from the garage. “When you take a break from studying for your board exams, please go through these and see what we can get rid of.”
I can probably thank him for saying that because in an effort to avoid unpacking, I immersed myself in studying symptoms, assessments, the DSM 5, case studies, differential diagnoses, and theories most of my waking hours. So by the time my brain was on information overload and I finally did take a look inside the dusty old boxes, I was surprised to see what was waiting. And waiting it was. Below the Girl Scout patches and faded Polaroid photographs, lay an almost pristine K Swiss shoe box. The sturdy white cardboard shoe box with navy blue and red lettering had inadvertently served as the receptacle of a rather ridiculous collection of love letters and cards.
So it was there, in the middle of an exorbitant amount of studying, in the center of the family room, with Lana del Rey crooning at the top of her lungs, that I sat down with my past and looked at it from a birds eye view so many years later. I found it fortuitous that I would be granted the opportunity at this specific time in my life, after immersing myself so completely in psychology, human behavior and even more importantly, the additional gift of a learning opportunity of such magnitude that it would prove integral to how I develop as a therapist…but that’s another story for another day. I unfolded each letter, one by one, and read pages upon pages of sweet nothings and sometimes somethings and much non-sensical mumbo jumbo. As much as the immature declarations of love and adoration touched my heart, it was seeing how each character or love interest had played out, how I had loved, and even moreso, how I had been loved at one time in the past, how our lives had evolved, and how it all had come to fit together in just the right puzzle. The scene was powerful, poignant. It made me happy for the choices others had made since and for how each decision had shaped their lives, and mine too. It also made me terribly sad, for someone in my romantic past who had cut his own life short, and it was deeply painful to consider how different his life might have been. We don’t always get closure, but I received it in spades that day. Don’t wait on “closure”. The answers or the lack thereof; don’t necessarily matter. It’s taking the risk each day to carry forth, to step out and make yourself vulnerable, to embrace the uncertainty, the progress, and even the beautiful end that you could have never predicted. The answers weren’t in that box of closure. The answers were in each leap of faith I took thereafter. Don’t wait on closure to begin living your next chapter, but if you get it thirty years later, smile and know that the shoe box served its purpose well.