Jewelry Box

I miss my mom more some days than others. I think it usually sneaks up on me when I’m tired, or I’ve been really busy and don’t get a chance to breathe and think about her.

Today, my SO reminded me of her. Indirectly, of course. It starts with the necklace he got me for last Christmas, a little pendant of an angel with the phrase “watch over me” on it. He bought it so I could remember that my parents were always with me. His gesture was so sweet and kind that I value that as much as I value the necklace itself. So even though it’s not the style I prefer, I still wear it a lot of the time, like today.

Well, at dinner, SO asked me if I liked it (because I’d blundered through a previous conversation with him trying to describe my feelings above without having fully formed them yet), and it reminded me of the necklaces I used to make for my mom. There was a craft store nearby our school back when I was kid that my dad took my brother and me to all the time. You could purchase beads and trinkets, string and clasps, and then sit down at the work table and string them together. Of course, looking back, I know that my designs weren’t anything spectacular. My taste as a seven, eight, maybe nine year old fell far short of my mom’s. It was just a fun way to spend a Saturday or afternoon after school. I’d forgotten about these necklaces until right before leaving for college this fall.

I was going through my things to decide what I wanted to pack. After my mom’s death, her jewelry chest found a new home in my room, and the top compartment became a catch all for all my necklaces, bracelets, and other small, lose-able things. While picking through these, I decided to look through the rest of the chest. I knew I would find fragments of my mom inside, so I took a breath and began.

The rings she wore to church sat in the top drawer, sans her wedding ring, carefully stored away in the safe until my brother’s wedding. Her necklaces, miscellaneous earrings and charms lived in the drawers following. I cradled the gemstone bracelet in my hands for a few moments; it had empty slots where new stones, signifying each of my parents’ anniversaries, hadn’t been added. And then I came to all the necklaces and bracelets I’d ever made for my mom, tucked away in a drawer of her jewelry box. I can’t remember how often she wore these necklaces; I seem to remember an intense happiness at a memory of a time she did wear one. But she had kept them. Literally until the day she died.

Whenever I miss my mom, it always helps me to think about how much she loved me. I know this is pretty sentimental; I’m feeling pretty gushy, but I’ve never written down my memories of my parents. I guess this is a good one to start with. Maybe now that it’s been two years (since mom’s death, four since dad’s), I can start recording what I remember of my parents. I can start working through what it meant for them to be parents in general, not just my parents. I can start processing what it was like for my mom to miss my dad and keep living with a terminal illness at the same time.

Usually I don’t even think about the fact that both my parents are dead, or, more accurately, I don’t think about it in relation to everyone else. I usually think I’m pretty normal, and I’m pretty happy, and I’m pretty content (when I’m not tired). I miss them, but when I do, I sit down, I let myself submerge in the missing-ness, the gone-ness of them, and then it passes.

It helps to know that they don’t have to worry about me. I don’t know what I believe about whether or not they’re actually watching over me (how heaven works, etc.) but it’s OK somehow because I know that when they were alive, they were the same kind of content that I am.

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