Tuesday, December 13, 2011
"Love" etched below. It's held together by a bit of metal foil and hangs by a frayed red ribbon.
It means the world to me.
We were standing in front of a shop window filled with etched glass ornaments and sun catchers in Baltimore's Inner Harbor in mid- September,having walked from Camden Yards where we'd spent a relaxing afternoon watching the O's. Frankly, I'm not much for baseball-I'm not a fan of any sports, really: Occasionally I watch the Olympics. On this particular day I'd made the 90 minute drive down I-95 to volunteer on the crew at a charitable event John was playing for the regional Cerebral Palsy agency, and we would be attending the Orioles game prior to the concert. Some of us took a side trip through the Inner Harbor just to window shop and came upon this glass shop.
The rather plain rectangle was quietly put into my hand. It was wrapped in a piece of white tissue paper. There was a tiny pressed purple and white violet and the word "Love" etched into the glass. It would look cute on my Christmas tree and join in the eclectic riot of ornaments that I carefully packed away each year. There were no accompanying pronouncements of love, just a low-key, non-romantic "Here you go-from me." John had brought me ornaments from all over the world for my collection, so we'd gone through this particular ritual for years; most of the time something would arrive in the mail followed a day later by a phone call. Occasionally, like this day, the babble in question would be handed to me in person.
Nothing appeared special about the little glass rectangle when it was pressed into my hand. Nothing at all.
Except it would be the last ornament John ever gave me. He was killed in a plane crash three weeks later. I was devastated not by his dying, but by the separation of death. I wanted him back. I still do.
I'd forgotten about the little glass rectangle until I found it still wrapped in the tissue paper tucked deep in the pocket of my purse one day in early December. It was just in time to put it on the tree with my other pretties and twinkling lights. John had been dead exactly two months to the very day I placed it on a high branch so the cats wouldn't disturb it. Back lit by the lights on the tree, the edges of the etched letters made tiny dancing stars.
Fifteen Christmases have passed since John died, yet he's still with me. This one particular little piece of sparkling glass is always hung at eye-level so I can pick it out easily it every time I look at my holiday tree. Admittedly, it is not as pretty as it used to be since the flower faded. But I remember what it looked like when it was new, and that's what I see, a delicate purple and white violet. Violets, in the language of flowers, have many meanings: friendship, love, remembrance, resurrection, rebirth... an un-ending promise. The ancient Romans laid violets on the graves of loved ones to denote continued affection after death. This is what enters my subconscious every time the little ornament catches my eye. It tells me that our friendship has endured beyond the veil and is still present even today. It says that the relationship not only continues, but will bring us back together at another time and place.
Another wonder of this magickal season, where Mystery reminds us of the fragility of Life and Love.