The things we leave behind

Today I finally got the necklace back. It was sitting at the jewelry store in a drawer – fixed – but no one ever bothered to call and tell me.

I remember Mama had the necklace re-threaded once before at this store when she was staying with us – for the birth of one boy or the other or in between or after the two, who knows. Remembering how much she liked it, this was the necklace I wore the most the summer after she died. So often that eventually, as one of those two boys wishing to admire Oma’s jewels tugged a little too eagerly, the necklace once again revealed its Achilles heel (of sharp edges against thin thread).

Outside this morning I briefly opened its box: Ah, Mama’s necklace, re-threaded and whole again.
I have to –
No, I don’t have to. I do not have to give it back to her. I can keep it. It is mine now.
There’s the small thrill of the gift, mixed up, all in one, with the huge pain of the loss. No, I cannot ever give it back to her.
This necklace’s legitimate first owner, my mother, no longer exists. This necklace is as orphaned as I am, so we might as well be in it together.
It is mine now.
No matter how much I wish it were still hers.
I almost don’t want it now for having felt that small thrill of it being mine.

Our next-door neighbor summed up the matter of inheritance best: “I’d much rather have the love,” she said.

Me too damn it.

But so her necklace and her hat and her shoes will travel West with us tomorrow.

Waiting to be packed, they make for the saddest still life I’ve ever seen.

I – no, we – miss her.


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