The 6 Black Boxes – A Military Widow’s View

The below article was originally posted on The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter… Military Widow to Military Widow.


6 boxes are all that is left of my husband. One filled with his socks, another with his uniforms, and another with every card or photo he had received.  Three more contain his books, sheets, and other military effects.

I remember when the boxes arrived, I sat there so anxious to see what was left of my baby. Opening each one I had no clue what I would see. Cautiously, I lifted the lid of the hard black containers.

There are the cards I wrote him, there are the movies he’d watch every night, there are the photos of me he had hanging next to his bed………there is the only thing left of my husband’s existence while in Iraq.

I remember opening up his laptop to find an snapshot of me I never knew he liked. There was the bear that had the personal message I had recorded telling him I can’t wait to see him come home and be together again. There were all the things I had sent, all the memories on film we had captured, all the literature he adored reading, now with no reader.

I forgot all that he had accumulated over his 8 months over there. Due to that fact, many items were so heartwarming but always with an aftertaste of anger.

I remember going through his clothes and immediately putting them to my nose……detergent. ‘I’ll try another shirt or maybe his socks!’ …….detergent. The fact that they had washed all of his clothing made me so infuriated! Let me have one last breath of his smell. The smell I was unable to be without for 8 months…..and now forever.

Some of Michael’s things I pulled out right away, others are still sitting in those looming boxes sitting in my garage. Every now in then I’ll open them to get a small inhale from his pillow that they DIDN’T wash, or go for a search for some hidden letter he may have written in the case he would die.

I never found the letter, I never got my husband to come home, and all I am left with are our memories, a few items of meaning and………6 black boxes.

Thank you to the American Widow Project for providing a place for military widows to share their stories, in their own voices. View the original article.

Photo Credit.


  1. Sandi Elzinga said on November 11, 2010 at 11:15 am ... #

    I can totally relate to this! After my husband died, I received 6 boxes his co-workers packed up from his office at work. I too, could hardly look through them and yet,8 years later,what a treasure they still are!

    GriefWalk: Hope Through The Dark Places

  2. darlene said on June 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm ... #

    Hi ,
    I know exactly what u mean.. After my husband was murdered some neighbors came over and washed my husbands shorts which he always hung on the bathroom hook..( i found that aggressive and uncaring on their part) I was so mad…. I like u , just wanted to smell him… God bless you…

  3. Nicole Mizener said on July 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm ... #

    Seven years later I still break down in anger over the boxes of clothes the military returned to me. I just want to smell him one more time why did they have to wash them?! I felt borderline violated the last few belongings he had were gone thru, touched, neatly placed in these boxes. I miss him so much. My mother in law took all these items from me for “safe keeping” because after he was killed I began to move a lot but now I feel it’s my right to have them back. How do I go about asking my dead husbands mother for the belongings which are rightfully mine and my childrens?


  4. Nicole Mizener said on May 10, 2014 at 12:08 am ... #

    I finally asked my mother in law for the boxes back, she returned them two years ago. They had been picked through, items missing. My heart breaks. She even kept the cologne I bought him, his smell and I cant find it anywhere, she has the only bottle still left in this world. I can;t take it, the anger of deception, all the items that belong to my children rightfully. I miss him, I cry, I am still scared. He will never be back, he will never be able to defend me and to protect me. Who do I have then? Just our babies….

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