To Whom It May Concern – The End and the Beginning

I received a package today, I didn’t recognize the sender.  Peculiar as I am about mail, I stared at it for quite some time without touching it.  A  box wrapped in brown paper, about the size of a pillow.  It rested on my porch in silence as I marveled at it.  It’s wrapping was plain, the label was revealing and I had not ordered a thing in months.  I wondered, what could it be?  So I brought it inside under my arm and I placed it on my desk.

An hour passed by as I shuffled through my paperwork, the little package continued to stare at me, beckoning me to indulge in my ever-growing curiosity.  Another survey of it revealed a little note attached underneath the label.  Hoping to find some sort of clue, I opened the tiny envelope and pulled out a piece of paper not much bigger than the slip hiding inside a fortune cookie.

“To Whom It May Concern”

The words were handwritten in a black and heavy ink, yet they seeped with a light innocence I couldn’t quite understand.  I flipped the note over and over in my hand to no avail, there were no other markings, no clues.  Sighing, I resigned myself to preparing a quick dinner for myself.  As I ate quietly, the package seemed to whine like a puppy, begging for attention.  Thus, I treated it as an untrained puppy and ignored it’s pleas until dinner was finished and cleaned away.

At last, I stood with no resolve left with which to fight it.  My arms met my hips in a sort of stand off with the silly thing.  I wondered why I was so drawn to it, and why I was so put of by it’s presence.  After all, I thought, perhaps it is something important.  My hands met the soft brown paper in a flash and I found it almost entirely exposed when I spotted the first hint.  The box underneath the wrapping was a soft blue, not hidden by any barriers between it and the wrapping, the same size I had assumed.  Giving up the fancies of testing it further, I lifted the lid slowly.  There are those moments in movies where the climax is at it’s peak and everything happens in slow motion; this was one of those moments.  My fingers clumsily pulled the lid from it’s place and let it fall to the floor with a thud that never quite reached my ears.

The package was stuffed tightly with the strangest and the most magnificent items.  My eyes wandered from a stack of photographs to a jar of little trinkets and another of small pebbles.  There was a little stuffed dolphin and a couple of old t-shirts, an old makeup container that seemed to have been filled with blue paint and a stack of letters tied up with string.  There were two wooden dolphins crudely carved with eyes painted with the same color of the paint.  There was a small vial of perfume and another of cologne, as each were labeled respectively.  There were two packs of airplane pretzels and what looked like a plaque in Gaelic and Japanese.

These items brought about a strange surge of emotion as they beckoned me gently.  My mind spun with what purpose anyone would have in sending them to me.  In my wondering, I noticed a little note on top of the stack of letters.

“To Whom It May Concern”

Once again, I was baffled by the simple phrase and struck with an insatiable curiosity.  I picked up the bundle of letters and gently untied the string so that I would be able to tie it back, if I needed to.  The seal had been broken in all the other letters except this one, like the note and the label of the package, the only marking on this envelope were the words “To Whom It May Concern.”  I  slid my finger through the seal and it popped open invitingly.  Little did I know, this letter would change my life in the strangest of manners.

“To Whom It May Concern,

Ah, what a joy. It seems that my package has been received by one of curiosity at last.  I must wonder how many hands this passed through before successfully reaching one with the guts to open this letter.  Oh, you must think this strange and me audacious, but you would be correct in both assumptions, so I will leave you to them.  As you read this, you must realize that what you hold is very precious, every last piece of the package is entirely precious and I pray that they have all fallen safely into your hands, that you may be able to do with them as should be done.  For you see, I have passed from the earth on which you now live, and my husband passed not long before me.  My only living companion was instructed to mail this package on the day of my death to whatever address she found acceptable in the phone book  and it would seem she chose yours.

My husband and I spent the few years we had together in much joy, and you would probably find yourself thinking it a shame that we died so young, so I will spare you the knowledge of our ages.  What did you notice first, when you opened the package?  See to it that you explore it all.  In the letters to follow, you will find our love letters, and though not all of them, each one of the ones I selected for this box contains the story of each item packed with them.  It is my hope, that even though my husband and I have now passed from the earth, that we may still touch one more life at least, with the story that only you can tell.  In the letters, you will also find how we met our deaths, how we came to only have one living friend at the time of them as well as why she did not choose to keep these items in memory of us.  Now, I have spoken enough for the beginning, go on, explore.  I beg you, do not toss out or carelessly lose a single item in this box, but keep them safe.  If you choose not to discover our story,  so be it, but find a new envelope and write the same words upon it and seal it, tying up the strings around the whole stack of letters, returning the note to where you found it.  Seal the box and wrap it with brown wrapping paper and hide the other note underneath a new label with an address you choose from a phone book.  If you do not have the heart to indulge in our story, let someone else have the chance to, I beg of you with my dying wish.”

The letter was not signed, though I assumed the identity of it’s author would be discovered in the mentioned love letters.  I am ashamed to say that the overwhelming emotion of the whole idea took over me and I followed the lady’s request.  As I taped on a new label with a new address selected at random, the package seemed to weep.  I wondered how often this had been done to their story, how many people could not handle it, already knowing the end, for that is what I dreaded.  The idea of learning to love two magnificent people, knowing that they had already passed from the earth was more sorrow than I wished to bear.  However, so was the idea of sending it along to an indefinite amount of disappointments.  I read the new label I had mindlessly posted on it and determined to deliver it personally instead of by mail.  Perhaps, I thought, we could share their story together, and maybe even begin one of our own.

~Tori Lynn

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