I am the kind of person who is most comfortable when she’s cloaked with sentimental objects. My house is filled with things that belonged to my ancestors, and I use these things every day because they give me comfort and a connection to my past. They give me strength.
The reason I wore a bright turquoise blouse the day of my husband’s funeral was so that I could wear a necklace my husband had given me for Christmas. It is a Superhero necklace made of bright glass beads. I wore it a lot when Bob was going through chemo. It made me feel strong. I knew I would need strength to get through that day.
On my wrist I wore a bracelet that I’d also worn to many of Bob’s chemo appointments and all of his hospital stays. When I’d sleep next to his hospital bed or sit next to his chemo chair, I’d fidget with that bracelet. It has a bead on it that says “HOPE.” My friend, Janell, gave it to me. It didn’t feel right to suddenly give up hope. Bob wouldn’t want me to stop hoping. I knew my children would be sitting with me at the funeral and they like to fidget with the beads sometimes, too. And so I wore the bracelet.
I’ve already explained the hat, but I also carried a vintage handbag. I have a collection of them I inherited from my two grandmothers. They make me feel connected to the strong women who came before me. My father’s mother was a young widow, too. Her children, my father and aunt, were just about the age of my kids when my grandmother lost her husband. I wonder if she wasn’t watching over me. I wonder if my other grandmother, the daughter of a mother whose husband left her to raise my grandmother on her own, was watching over me. It felt like they were. My matriarchs. With me.
As we got ready to leave, I was frantically trying to decide what to put into my purse. What would I need? I grabbed my lip gloss, some gum, my glasses, the typed copy of the eulogy, and my wallet. Then, I asked my friends if they thought I’d really need my wallet. “No,” was the resounding response. So, I pulled my wallet back out of the small purse. As I did, I noticed a brilliant orange monarch butterfly sticking out from the edge of my wallet.
I turned to Janell, showed her the butterfly, pressed flat and whole and asked her if she knew what the significance of a butterfly might be. I had no idea. She had no idea. We had to get going. The butterfly dropped to the floor as I tucked the wallet back into my other purse. We gathered the kids into the van with the rest of our group and left for the church.
to be continued…