Almost twenty-eight years ago, a few weeks after my first baby passed away (only ten days after his birth) my husband and I went to New Hampshire to spend a few days with my family for a holiday. I was beyond depressed and could barely pull myself out of bed. My grandmother, who had always lived with my parents and with whom I was very close, suggested we go to the mall so I could get some new clothes. I was still wearing baggy maternity pants since I was not even close to fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I imagine I looked pretty awful. I remember the shopping trip being an ordeal; I had nothing to show for my post C-section body and to say I was not an enthusiastic shopper would be the understatement of the century. I chose a few items I thought would suffice and was soon ready to leave. My goal was to get out of there before I started crying again.
On our way out of the mall we passed a jewelry store with shiny things in the window. My grandmother suggested we go inside and said she wanted to buy me a present. I thought, “Are you kidding me?” I just wanted to go home. But my grandmother was insistent and so we went in. Knowing I didn’t want to be there, she quickly chose a diamond tennis bracelet for me and we left the store—I don’t remember much about the purchase other than my indifference. I wanted my child back, not a piece of jewelry. I don’t even remember if I thanked her.
The grieving continued and I slogged through it, one miserable day at a time. About a year after my son passed away I was pregnant again, and twenty-one months after my first son was born, I delivered our second son. Four and a half years later we were blessed with another son. Our visits to New Hampshire were joyous ones, and my grandmother delighted in my children even as she grew older and unwell. She passed away 18 years ago at the age of 97. She did not get to meet my last son but, in the Jewish tradition, I named him after her. I think she would have been pleased by that.
The years went on and I wore the tennis bracelet she bought me every day. I’m not sure why I eventually took it off, I think the setting was getting fragile and I was worried it would break.
I came across that bracelet in my drawer not too long ago and picked it up and stared at it for a while, remembering my grandmother and how my happiness always meant everything to her. When my son died, she couldn’t make things better for me, but she wanted to do something.
I gave the bracelet to my jeweler and he reset it for me. When it was done, I put it back on my wrist where it will remain. In the sparkle of the diamonds I remember my grandmother—it is a tangible memento of her love. Sometimes a gift is not truly appreciated until long after it is received. Sometimes the true meaning of a gift is not immediately understood. I think about all the little and big things my grandmother did for me and I know that to be loved like that was an incredible thing—one of the greatest gifts of my life.