Barefoot, I step on the wooden bead. I grab my foot and rub out the pain in my arch. A few days ago the elastic in my bracelet broke, scattering brown beads all over the dark hardwood floor. Collecting them into a baggie I was bound to miss one. My foot still smarting I pick up the stray bead and limp to my dresser, adding it to the others in my jewelry box. I make a mental note to restring them. It’s unlikely as I spot another baggie containing a bracelet I broke nearly ten years ago . . . and still have not restrung.
I poke through the contents of the box; an old casino chip from Deadwood, South Dakota, a spare key from a Toyota Camry I drove beyond 200,000 miles, a key to my dad’s den in a home we sold years ago, a rhinestoned dragonfly pin, and tiny, golden angel wings tied to a frayed red thread. It’s less of a jewelry box and more of a memory keeper I suppose. One day when I am gone, my family will rummage through my random mementos. Someone will pick up an odd item and say, “I wonder why she kept this.” Sometimes I wonder too.
A small handwritten note catches my eye, words of gratitude from someone who needed a helping hand. I lended mine. I remember interpreting the note as affirmation that my good deed had righted a wrong between us from a lifetime ago. It’s more likely it was just a sincere and simple thank you, but I tend to look for hidden messages in everything.
I remember he was hesitant to accept my help. He pretended to have many options, when I knew he did not. Eventually he said yes to a chance to get back on his feet, and moved in with me. For more than a year our arrangement worked. He helped me too. But it wasn’t meant to last. His circumstances changed in a way I could not support. I was no longer willing to help. He disappeared.
I did see him once before I moved to Italy. He came to the house to get some stuff I had boxed up for him. That was nearly two years ago. We haven’t been in touch since. I don’t know the details of his life, but have heard through the grapevine that it never really got back on track. I look at the note again and hope he is all right.
Some relationships run their course, friendships end and love falls away . . . the memories only visiting me in passing thoughts.
Others have a lasting hold. I can open box and find remnants of our stories; a poker chip from a cross country road trip with someone I once believed I could not live without, a key to a room where my dad worked in dim light as his kids, one by one, kissed him goodnight, tiny angel wings I wore on my wrist as a constant wish to save my mom from cancer . . .
And a Thank You note that gently reminds me that no matter the circumstances of our parting, I always want for him a happy life. I close the lid to my jewelry box and send a little love and light his way.