Saturday, December 17, 2011

What We Lose, What We Gain

Wright & Teague Delphi Rings
Some years ago - like maybe a decade - most of my jewelry was stolen. None of it was very valuable, although there were some pearls and jade and a little amber, and a lovely pair of moonstone stud earrings. But, as is the way of things, each piece had a story that was part of my life. That was the real value, and hence the deepest loss. I'd had some of them since my childhood, and some had been gifts from loved ones who've since died. Some of it was my mother's.

I went through the expected rage and frenzy, scouring local flea markets in the forlorn hope that I might spot a piece or two. Of course, I did not. When that stage had run its course, the police report filed (and, doubtless, forgotten), anger turned to grief, and grief to acceptance, and acceptance to looking in a new way at what I'd lost.

I wrote in my journal that the thieves had taken bits of minerals, crystals, shells, fossilized tree sap, but they could not steal:

the stories in my mind
the books I've written
my children
the redwoods
my dreams
my friends
their kindness and generosity to me
my capacity for joy...

Slowly, over the years, I have acquired a new collection. It's smaller and more suited to who I am now. I discovered a few things from my mother, tucked away in an old cigar box with some broken bits and things I didn't wear. Friends and family surprised me with simple, beautiful pieces: a strand of black pearls, an amber pendant, a necklace of silver and garnet dangles, tiny, amazingly delicate garnet earrings. I went through a period of needing "replacements," and then letting them go. My daughter and I have swapped a number of pairs of earrings. It's such a delight to pass them on. And to realize I don't truly need any of this.

What I need are the people I love, and who love me. What I need is to write the stories in my heart. What I need is to work for a better world for everyone.

I look at what I have, what I have lost, what cannot be taken from me, what I have gained. Yes, I enjoy beautiful things. But how much more precious are the memories that come with them.

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