I was eighteen when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. The disease took him quickly, but on his deathbed he asked everyone to leave and with all his energy he sat up in bed.
“Son, life will throw you curve balls and sometimes you’ll feel you don’t know what to do, but there is always hope. Open the drawer over there,” he said, gesturing to the cabinet next to the bed.
I opened it and took out a mahogany box. He removed his necklace and passed it to me; a small key hung from it.
“I’ve never been good at advice, but I can give you one thing, that box and this key. However tough things get, this is your hope. This is the only thing I have that could help you when I’m gone. Cherish it son. It was passed down from my father, which was passed down from his.”
“Thanks,” I said confused.
“Just remember, this box is a symbol of hope, never give up.”
And with that, his eyes shut and the strings holding up his shoulders gave way and he was gone.
I thought about that box many times over the years as I grew up. There were many times where I wanted to open it, but I never did. Knowing there was something that could help me in times of need was all I needed, a safety net if you will. With all the ups and downs, I made it. I married my childhood sweetheart, had a child of my own and life ended up good. My father was always in my mind, his advice and his box. I wanted to thank him for the help he gave me after he’d gone. But in some way, I knew he knew.
When my son Daniel turned eighteen and was going off to college, he was upset, he didn’t want to leave his friends, but we knew it was the best chance he had to get a good life. I passed the box and key onto him. Told him it was his hope; when things get hard, it was there for him. Never give up, but when times are hard, it will be there for you.
I returned home with groceries for Daniel to take with him to University. I shouted out for him and didn’t hear a response. Assuming he went out, I phoned his Cell. I heard the muffled ringtone from the floor above. I took the stairs two at a time to see his bedroom door open; the box on the floor empty, except for a note.
His lifeless body lay peacefully on the bed, a large red stain dying the sheets; a gun sat loosely in his grip. I fell to my knees and cried.
I picked up the note that sat in the box.
When you’ve lost all hope, what you find within will be your peace.