Trinkets for treasures

It happened this week. If I continued to wear it, I knew it would happen eventually. But I couldn’t stop wearing it, because it brought me comfort; silly as it is, it makes me feel closer to Sam…

I had even thought about what I would say if someone asked me about it but when someone actually did, I seemed so surprised. And then I surprised myself further. I lied.

My client had asked me after the status meeting where I had gotten my ring. I said, “Oh, which one?” She said the one with the dangling, pretty, green leaf. My heart sunk; what could I say that wasn’t going to put a spotlight on something so painful? So what happened next is that I lied; in a harmless way to my client, in a damaging way to myself. Maybe someone would say it was just a fib or a “white lie” but for me and the meaning of it all, it was clearly a lie.

I told her the “ring” with the dangling leaf was actually a charm for a wine glass stem that had been lying on my kitchen counter during Thanksgiving festivities and I had put it on to get it out of the way. I had planned to put it away later and I just hadn’t yet because I thought it was sort of “fun.” After saying it, I didn’t even know where what I had said had come from. She continued to smile at me and in my relief, the conversation continued with no long or awkward pause and her facial expression had not changed. My lie had worked for my client; for me, it had not but that was only visible inside of me, not out.

There were a few more minutes of small chit chat conversations and then I left the meeting room, exited the State building and found my way to my parked car across the street. Then I was safely secure in my large, gas-guzzling SUV that I had bought to have enough room for two growing male teenagers. Looking around and realizing I was in a place of quiet solitude, I wept. 

I wept because there was one less male teenager, a handsome 6’2” young man, that I could take places and share life with. I cried, too, because I had lied. In my lie, I felt I had betrayed Sam because that is why I was wearing the charm as a ring and I hadn’t told her about my beloved son. Why didn’t I tell her the truth? Why didn’t I share with her that I had lost such a wonderful son at the young age of 16 and now after only six months, my life is a diligent effort in the face of adversity, a painstaking struggle?

In truth, wearing the charm was an indication of one of the holiday’s small victories for me. Making it through the first Thanksgiving holiday without him had been the largest victory. So what had really happened that had caused me to lie instead of tell the truth in its stark reality? 

It was Thanksgiving Day and I had mustered the courage to go to the kitchen cabinet where the ice bucket was stored. Seems a small task in and of itself with the busyness of the cooking, meal prep and table setting that was going on. But I knew the ice bucket was stored in the cabinet that Sam had used. The ice bucket was stored on the top shelf and on the bottom shelf was Sam’s basket… where when he came home from school he would place things that he wanted to keep, were important to him in some way, his treasures. It’s where his wallet is… his friends’ sport buttons… hand-written notes and reminders… ticket stubs to movies and sport events that he wasn’t ready to throw away… special pins he had gotten and writing pens he favored at the ready if needed… his extra can of Axe body spray in case he needed that “extra” Essence scent before he walked out the door… his eye glasses that he never wore as he preferred contacts once he was old enough to wear them… I know these things are all there; I can close my eyes and see them in the basket and now I was going to have to really “see” them if I opened that cabinet to get the ice bucket.

In my moment of planning to accomplish getting the ice bucket, I surmised I could open the cabinet and just look up and my line of vision might not see what hurts. My mission had started. I quickly opened the cabinet, saw just the ice bucket and reached up and grabbed it down. Then there was a clang as the wine glasses next to the ice bucket began to fall over. I didn’t even stop with what I was doing as I quickly shut the cabinet and then the clanging stopped. I contemplated opening the cabinet back up to check on the wine glasses that had toppled over but that seemed far too difficult to ever conceive I would be able to accomplish it. Instead, I breathed a sigh of relief and looked down in thankfulness that I had made it that far, that my mission was accomplished and I had indeed “done it.” That is when I saw the charm that must have fallen out of the cabinet and onto the menu desk below the cabinet; either when the wine glasses toppled over on the top shelf or from my quick movement to get the ice bucket down from the cabinet. Instantly, my first thought came to me. It was from Sam. It was his cabinet. My magical thinking had kicked in. I had likely bought the charm as a set at some point, perhaps on clearance, my favorite kind of purchase, but I could not recall buying this charm. I put it on, looked at it and it made me feel good. The outer edges of my lips curled upwards in the twinge of a smile, for my loving son, Sam. My treasure…