I wore the necklace with the tiny multicolored beads every day.  Its primary color was black but there were also blues, greens, reds and white.  I liked the necklace because it was unique and because it matched my wardrobe.  It was my favorite.

I was on vacation and in a hotel room in Las Vegas when the unthinkable happened.  I was pulling the necklace over my head and it got caught in my ponytail.  I tugged and it broke.  The tiny little beads scattered everywhere:  on the counter, on the floor and down the sink into the drain.  I must have yelled out because my husband came to see what was wrong.

“My necklace broke!”  I sobbed.  “I’ve got to put it back together.”  I was on my hands and knees trying to gather the beads but they were so tiny and they were so scattered.

“What’s the big deal?  It’s a cheap necklace.  You can get another one.”  He didn’t understand.

“It was my mother’s necklace.  There is no other.  It was hers and now it’s broken.”  At this point I was sobbing, and suddenly he understood the importance  of the necklace.  “I didn’t know.  I’m so sorry.”

My mom died six years previously and while the crying episodes were less frequent, they still happened at random times, like this.  I think I am “over” her death, and then when I break down in tears, I wonder if really am.   My grief is like a volcano that erupts without warning.

My husband took what was left of the necklace, the beads that had not escaped the thread, and we assessed the situation.  The beads were just too small to recover.  He took the ends of the string and tied the necklace back together, tightly.   Salvaged, but not the same as it was.  Shorter in length, it was too long to wrap around once and not long enough for a double wrap.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “I didn’t know.”

I kept the necklace, but I probably won’t ever wear it again.  Yet even as I know it is just a bunch of beads on a string, I can’t bear to throw it out.  The symbolism, the association with my mom, is just too strong.  If I throw it out, what does that say about me?  And if I don’t throw it out, what does that mean?

So the necklace stays in my jewelry box until I’m ready to clear out the clutter from my life and my mind.  I will get there eventually but not today.

In the meantime, I might try to wear it as a bracelet.

Lizzy Miles 2011

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Lizzy Miles

Lizzy Miles has been to more funerals than weddings in her life. She stopped counting her losses and started counting her “angels” when she reached double digits. Inspired by her comforting and positive experiences with hospice staff, Lizzy decided to pay it forward and become a hospice volunteer. She found that work so rewarding that she determined that her life's purpose was to work in hospice. She made a mid-life career change and quit her marketing job of twelve years to return to school to become a hospice social worker. While she was an intern for hospice, she organized an event where she helped a 91-year old hospice patient ski again. She has a Master's degree in Communication and one in Social Work. She is currently a hospice social worker and the networking chair for ADEC, the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

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