The Last Gift

81721220_10221596693528120_505395252761198592_oWhen I was a tomboy of eleven, my Aunt Willow gave me a sterling silver bracelet.  Why she gave it to me I’ve long forgotten; whether it was an intentional gift or a hand-me-down token from her own jewelry collection, I don’t know.  I do know that from the moment that she gave it to me, I clamped it upon my wrist and wore it nearly continuously for twenty-six years.  I loved it because it was real silver, simple but classic, with a patina braid running thru its middle.   It was buttery soft; I could bend it effortlessly back into shape if need be and I felt like a bonafide adult with it on my wrist.  It was vintage, before I knew what such a thing meant, and it went with me everywhere.

As the years dulled its shine and it wore a permanent tan line onto my wrist, the bracelet saw me through the end of my childhood and the cliches and social awkwardness of middle school.  It was there when I graduated high school and college; it glistened under fluorescent lights as I signed the papers to buy my first house.  It moved to LA (and back) with me and bore silent witness to my first heartbreak and also to my first taste of freedom.  The first time I ever ate sushi, on Franklin Ave in Hollywood, it was there, peeking out of my jacket sleeve.  When it was time to move home again, there it was, snug & tight on my wrist through two state lines and 100’s of u-haul miles.  It traveled back to California for Edgar and I’s San Francisco honeymoon and was there in the delivery room when all three of our boys were born.

I wore that bracelet to all the great moments in my life; to all the mundane everyday ones and all the epic, life-altering ones in equal measure.  It was a small but defining element to what made me me; at least before the loss of you.

Six months ago, today, was the last time I wore that bracelet; the last time I saw your face.  Your hands were not as cold as I thought they would be and I kept expecting you to open your eyes.  I stared at your still chest~that great barrel-shaped chest of yours and willed it to rise.  For you to take a breath, just one breath, again.  A Garth Brooks song was playing and I thought that you must be there, in that room with us, because that was totally a song you would have picked to try & comfort us; to let us know that you were safe & peaceful.

And as I stood there, dry-eyed, looking at your stilled strength and rough, capable hands; I took my bracelet off my wrist and placed it in your shirt pocket.  I patted it down gently and said goodbye, to you, to us, to everything I’d known before. The me that wore that bracelet, through life’s ups and downs, was gone.  And as time works its wicked ways and does what time does best, my bracelet will move down; slipping between your ribs, slowly, slowly inching to where I wish I could be, to where I know I am~in your heart forever.

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