Oh, the power of a package!
Just when I feel that all have forgotten us in this isolated corner of the world, and that I may as well be doing a stint on the International Space Station for how far away I feel, a box arrives.
Someone (usually my parents) remembered us! Someone went shopping for us! Someone paid the ridiculous amount of postage it takes to get something to far-away Papua!
The box is battered, ripped on the side from the rough handling it no doubt received in its various ports of call. But amazingly it has reached the ends of the earth, and there, unmistakably, is my mother’s handwriting on the top, and the return address of Savannah, Georgia.
It’s like Christmas morning around here to open a package. The children gather around, anxious to see what Nana has sent this time. There might be crumpled newspaper for packing material, which I carefully smooth out and lay aside, to read later.
Knowing my mother lovingly packed the items in the box makes it all the more special. I pick up a shirt she bought for me, knowing she washed it before she packed it so it could be legitimately labeled “used clothing” on the customs form. I hold it to my face and breathe in deeply the scent of Tide detergent. Ah, a smell of America.
Rifling deeper in the box I find comics pages that my dad pulled from the newspaper for me. Of course I could go online and read these same comics, but I love to hold them in my hand, knowing he read them, too, and laughed over them like we will. Sometimes he makes comments under certain comic strips like, “This is so you, Natalie” or “who does this make you think of?” and I smile, knowing he was thinking of us.
Inevitably Mom has tucked in some kind of treat for the kids – gummy worms, M&M’s, t-shirts. A bag of dark chocolate goes straight into my “chocolate drawer” and the kids know better than to ask about it. A bag of seasonal candy reminds me while we live on in perpetual summer in the tropics, it is Easter back home.
We get to the bottom of the box. Staring at the tattered box, I feel a little empty. Because while I love packages from home, they really don’t ease the ache I often feel for my family in America. And yet, short of opening a package and finding my parents hiding inside, this is the next best thing. A package makes me feel loved and remembered. It’s my mom’s way of loving us from afar. And that is a powerful thing.