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An aisle in a grocery store | Source: Shutterstock
An aisle in a grocery store | Source: Shutterstock

My Mom Left Me in a Cardboard Box in the Supermarket When I Was a Baby — 20 Years Later She Asked For My Help

Prenesa Naidoo
May 28, 2024
07:15 A.M.

Sue was left in a cardboard box as a small child. Luckily, a store clerk took her home and changed the course of her entire life. Now, in the form of an unexpected knock at the door, Sue has to face her past and the disappointment that comes with it. Is this a grand reunion or the biggest disappointment of Sue's life?

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I was left in a cardboard box in a supermarket twenty years ago. I was just a few months old, and all I had to my name were a few photos of my mother and a note.

A baby in a cardboard box | Source: Midjourney

A baby in a cardboard box | Source: Midjourney

The note read: I will always love you, Sue.

Nobody knew my surname or whether I had a middle name. Nobody seemed to know my mother or what had happened to my father. I was all alone in a world that didn't know anything about me.

A folded piece of paper | Source: Midjourney

A folded piece of paper | Source: Midjourney

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But even then, at a few months old, I seemed to be fortune's fool. I was found by a kind store clerk, Ruby, who took me in.

"I couldn't leave you there, Sue," she would say whenever the story came up. "I became your guardian shortly after and raised you as my own. You became my little bug."

Ruby was everything to me. And as I grew, the closer we became.

A smiling woman in a grocery store | Source: Midjourney

A smiling woman in a grocery store | Source: Midjourney

I was forever grateful that she gave me everything I needed. But still, I never stopped wondering why my mother left me and if she would ever come back.

"I know that it bothers you, darling," Ruby told me one day as she made lasagna for dinner. "But she's an enigma now. We have nothing that could lead us to her."

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A tray of lasagna on a board | Source: Unsplash

A tray of lasagna on a board | Source: Unsplash

"I know," I said, grating more cheese for when the dish was ready. "It's just frustrating when I start thinking about it."

"You love the internet, you love social media, Sue. Use it, share your story, maybe it will resonate with people, and you can connect with others just like you."

A person grating cheese | Source: Pexels

A person grating cheese | Source: Pexels

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She opened the oven and put the tray of lasagna inside.

So I did just that, and I became a well-known video blogger, sharing my story with the world.

"You've created a safe platform for people to share their stories, too," Ruby told me when I read comments from my latest video to her.

A young woman holding her phone | Source: Unsplash

A young woman holding her phone | Source: Unsplash

"It means something to me," I said, helping myself to the eclairs on the table.

Fast forward to the present. I am successful and able to provide for myself and my guardian.

"So much for being an abandoned baby," I said to myself as I washed my face one night.

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A woman washing her face | Source: Pexels

A woman washing her face | Source: Pexels

But imagine my surprise when an unexpected knock on my door changed everything.

I opened the door to find a frail, older woman standing there, her eyes filled with regret and desperation.

"Sue, darling," she said. "I am your mother, and I need your help!"

A person opening a door | Source: Pexels

A person opening a door | Source: Pexels

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I just looked at her, unable to blink for fear of missing the moment.

"Do you still have the note I left with you when I left you safely in the store?"

Safely? I thought to myself. I stood there, paralyzed by the flood of emotions that had come in when she entered my home.

A sad woman holding her face | Source: Pexels

A sad woman holding her face | Source: Pexels

"Yes, I have it," I said, my voice barely above a whisper. "I kept it."

"I know I have no right to ask for your help after what I did, but I need you to believe me when I say I had no choice back then. I was running from a dangerous situation. And I thought leaving you in a safe place was the only way to protect you. I needed to disappear."

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A person wearing boots | Source: Unsplash

A person wearing boots | Source: Unsplash

"What kind of situation?" I asked.

I had wondered about this moment for years. And every second that went by, I was just disappointed by the reunion with my birth mother.

She hesitated, looking down at her hands.

A person holding their hands together | Source: Unsplash

A person holding their hands together | Source: Unsplash

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"There were people after me, people who wouldn't stop until they got what they wanted. I stole something once, just to help me out financially. I stole the wrong thing from the wrong people. I had to keep you safe. So I left you."

Of course, my mother was shady.

Two people dressed in black | Source: Pexels

Two people dressed in black | Source: Pexels

"You could have come back sooner. You could have tried to find me."

"I know, but I was scared."

I took a deep breath, trying to process everything.

"What do you need help with?"

A woman with her eyes closed | Source: Unsplash

A woman with her eyes closed | Source: Unsplash

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She looked up, her eyes pleading.

"I need a place to stay, just for a little while, until I can get back on my feet. I have nowhere else to go."

My heart ached. But I knew that Ruby would want me to say yes. She would tell me to do it. I could almost hear her words in my head.

A smiling older woman | Source: Pexels

A smiling older woman | Source: Pexels

"That's your birth mother, Sue. Help her," Ruby would say, most likely bribing me with something to eat.

"Okay," I said finally. "You can stay. But this doesn't mean everything is forgiven. We have a lot to talk about."

She nodded, tears streaming down her cheeks.

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A crying woman | Source: Pexels

A crying woman | Source: Pexels

"Thank you. I promise, I'll make things right."

She reached down, picked up a worn duffel bag, and followed me in.

The first few days went by relatively smoothly. My mother seemed genuinely remorseful and tried to help around the house.

A worn duffel bag on the floor | Source: Midjourney

A worn duffel bag on the floor | Source: Midjourney

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"I'll cook and I'll clean for you, darling," she said.

But it didn't last long.

One evening, I came home earlier from the local radio studio where I was being interviewed for my content. The house was unusually quiet.

A person holding cleaning supplies | Source: Pexels

A person holding cleaning supplies | Source: Pexels

Walking to my bedroom, I heard the faint sound of drawers opening and closing.

And there she was, standing there in front of my open jewelry box, my most precious pieces clutched in her hands.

"What are you doing?" I demanded, unable to contain my rage, but also wanting to keep calm at the same time.

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An open jewelry box | Source: Midjourney

An open jewelry box | Source: Midjourney

She looked up, startled, and for a moment, I saw a flash of guilt in her eyes.

"I was just... I thought maybe I could sell some of these to help me out. They're heavy, so they're real."

"Of course, they're real! They're gifts from my mother! She saved up for years just so that she could get that diamond necklace for my 18th birthday. And you want to steal from me?"

A diamond necklace | Source: Unsplash

A diamond necklace | Source: Unsplash

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She looked shocked, like the wind had been knocked from her sails.

"You have so much, darling," she said, almost whimpering. "I just thought that you wouldn't miss a few pieces. We could use the money."

"We? This isn't about us; it's about you. And it's not about money, either. It's about trust. You said that you wanted to make things right, but all you've shown me is that I cannot trust you."

A woman holding her head | Source: Unsplash

A woman holding her head | Source: Unsplash

She reached out to me, but I stepped back.

"Please, don't do this, Sue. I can change. I just need some time."

I shook my head, tears of betrayal and disappointment filling my eyes.

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A close-up of a crying woman | Source: Pexels

A close-up of a crying woman | Source: Pexels

"I gave you a chance. I let you into my home. I let you meet Ruby. And you still chose to betray me. No, I'm sorry. But you need to leave."

Her face crumpled, and she pulled a tissue from my vanity.

"Please, just one more chance," she said.

"I can't," I said, my voice breaking. "You need to go."

A box of tissues | Source: Midjourney

A box of tissues | Source: Midjourney

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"Sue, I gave birth to you," she said, putting the necklace down.

"And you left me in a box," I said.

I watched as she gathered her things and left, the duffel bag looking considerably fuller than when she arrived. But I didn't have it in me to fight her again.

A full duffel bag | Source: Midjourney

A full duffel bag | Source: Midjourney

Sadness and disappointment weighed me down heavily. But there was also a sense of relief.

Later, I went over to Ruby's house. It was the one place that would always feel like home to me.

"Darling girl," she said, flipping grilled cheese onto a plate. "You took a chance on someone who loved you, that's what you take away from this experience."

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Grilled cheese on a plate | Source: Midjourney

Grilled cheese on a plate | Source: Midjourney

I smiled at her. At the woman who had taken me home in a heartbeat and had loved me ever since.

But now, I worry that I've just sent my birth mother back into the world she had been trying to escape from.

A worried woman with her head on a table | Source: Pexels

A worried woman with her head on a table | Source: Pexels

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Was I right in my decision?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you.

My MIL Asked Me to Help Cover Her Debt – I Was Horrified When I Found Out What She Was Hiding

An elderly woman in bed | Source: Freepik

An elderly woman in bed | Source: Freepik

Natasha knew she got lucky in the mother-in-law department, with Marlene cherishing her like her own daughter. But when Natasha starts to see a change in Marlene's behavior, she begins to get worried about the old woman. Eventually, when the truth is revealed, Natasha doesn't know what to believe.

Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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