They’d lost their roots when they lost James.
It probably wasn’t unusual to feel cut adrift when someone entered widowhood before thirty, but Thea had the added joy of having lost both of her parents within two years of losing James. They hadn’t died young, just younger than she’d have liked them too.
James’ parents were wonderful, of course. They visited at least once a season, no matter where Thea moved she and Seb to. They took Seb for at least two weeks in the summer, sometimes home with them in Minnesota, sometimes on exotic vacations.
And they had Kay, but Kay wasn’t any less itinerant than they were.
When James was alive they never had a “box room.” If they moved—which hadn’t been often—everything had to be unpacked right away, and put in its rightful place. They definitely had a box room now. For about a year, when her father had been in steady decline and in and out of nursing facilities, she and Seb had lived with him. But there hadn’t been room in her parent’s house for all her stuff, and when they’d sold that house and moved again she just hadn’t really unpacked.
She’d unpacked all the things they actually needed. Their clothes, the few family pictures she hung on the walls wherever they went, books. The rest she just…hadn’t. There were at least three boxes of blankets she kept telling herself she was going to donate, next move.
She was pretty sure the cardboard file box taped all to heaven was actually Kay’s, and she wasn’t sure she’d moved it yet. It just kept finding them. Some things she knew better than to ask questions about.
“Do you know which box it’s in?” Seb asked, standing next to her and staring in horror at the stacks of boxes.
He needed baby pictures for a school project, and she had virtual piles of cell phone snaps, or pictures that’d been posted on Facebook. But somewhere in one of these boxes were four small scrapbooks, each covering a year of Seb’s life in pictures, that her mother had made during her early retirement crafting phase.
Thea blew out a breath. “We had them out on the shelf at Grandpa’s. The U-Move boxes are from there.” She grabbed a smallish box with a blue label. “These are from the last one, so they’re probably behind them.”
Seb slid the last box across the floor, and waited for her to shift the next stack, and eventually they worked their way to the middle of the room. He pointed at one of the U-Move boxes. “That one says bookcase, is that where they were?”
“No, those are the spiritual books from Grandpa’s bookcase.” She shifted it down. The one under it said bedroom, and it’d obviously been opened. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’re in here.”
Thea hadn’t really had a ‘bedroom’ when they lived with her dad. The house only had two, one had been her parents and the other Seb slept in because him having a door was more important than her not living in the basement. Several of the things in the box she’d marked as her bedroom had been keepsakes and family photos and things that’d just been in the basement with her.
“Woohoo!” Seb crowed, and grabbed the small photo books. “Awesome.”
Thea smiled at him, and stretched her back. “There you go. Are you good?”
“Yeah.” Seb frowned down at the box, and bent and picked up a cast iron train. “Is this a toy?”
“I don’t know. Grandpa had it on a bookcase forever. It might have been his, or one of his father’s.”
Seb scrubbed at the smokestack with his thumb. “Can I keep it?”
“Of course.” Thea closed the box up. “He’d like that.”
He raced off with his new treasure, and Thea looked around her at the boxes. Maybe they hadn’t lost their roots so much as lost their soil. It was probably time to think about settling somewhere. Seb was in fifth grade, he was getting too old for her keep to dragging him along behind her.
Come back tomorrow for J--Jolt