In October of that year, we were told about my Mom's cancer. They explained it was Stage 4 Sarcoma Uterine Cancer. The doctors gave us to Christmas... maybe. Our family stumbled through the next two months as Mom went through treatment. We planned for the best, prepared for the worst, and hoped to God.
That year for Christmas, Mom decided she wanted to give us each something "special"; something just from her. She decided on a piece of jewelry for each of us. When I opened my gift it was to find exactly what I wanted as my last gift from Mom.
A locket in the shape of a heart. Silver with "diamonds" outlining it. Inside, a picture of my mom and I when I was a baby. On the back was an inscription that read Forever, Mom. I slipped the delicate chain around my neck and let it settle against my chest. It was light, much lighter than my own heart that day, but it promised me that a part of my mother would be with me always.
I never took the locket off. I wore it to sleep, to exercise, to walk the dog, to shower. When things got hard to deal with, I would grab hold of my locket between my fingers and slide my thumb across the engraving. It comforted me before Mom died and eased my grief after. I felt instantly closer to her and somehow settled and calm.
The first accident involving my necklace occurred when I was out playing with the dogs (mine and our neighbour's) in the backyard. I leaned down to pick up the ball and the neighbour's dog snapped the necklace off me. She grinned at me with a dopey look and swallowed. I told the neighbour about it and we both spent the next week "looking" for it.
When I found the necklace, I immediately submersed it in bleach. Then with an old toothbrush, I scrubbed it with bleach. Only then did I inspect it for damage -- one of the stones was gone and the picture inside was ruined. Everything else was fine. I took it to the jewellers, had the necklace fixed and then replaced the picture. It should have been the end. I should have put it in a box and saved it.
But I didn't. I wore it every day. I had to. I needed that stability, that promise that Mom was still part of me.
And then one day, five months after my mother died, I went for a walk with the dog. When I got home, the necklace was gone. I searched the neighbourhood for weeks, but it never surfaced. To this day, I still hope someone will return it to me. But I know. I know I won't see it again.
Mom lived two years after that first diagnosis. But that Christmas -- the one with the locket -- was our last one. The one we knew was our last. The others were bonuses. And this gift, was the last gift. The one I will remember forever even if it is not with me anymore. Forever, Mom.
I am participating in Write Of Passage -- The Gift.
So are these people, go read.