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“I wear my name,” she said, lifting and fingering the small spheres of deepened, glowing nacre of the pearls that had graced her neck before my memory.

The oils of her skin had changed the color of the once-secret jewels from
their sea-foam white, stolen from within the folded flesh of the countless
sticky shells of oysters that would have always held inside their hidden beauty,
despite the life-long irritant of a tiny grain of wayward sand.

Filaments of sequined light shone from the necklace, and though
I had always been covetous of things that were not mine, I
could not imagine myself adorned with such perfectly matched orbs.

As the years passed, melting from joy to confusion, the disease that
claimed her mind called her away, and her body became a cell of
brittle bones, pieces of broken art subject to knocks, brutally buffeted
by the air of outward change. No linen wrap, nor elegantly shining
burnished wood enclosed her feather-light remains.

Unwilling to bury the broken strand that had in ways defined her,
we fastened a strand of faux white beads, unworthy of her, around her tiny neck.

She told me I need never beware of such earthly withering, the ebb
and flow, the come and go.  “Though pearls may lie scattered at my feet,
I need not wear them again.  God knows me.  God will call my name.”

********************

My mother died of Alzheimer’s disease on March 28, 2001.  She was taken away from us, in increments, for ten long years before she left her wasted body behind.  I have told stories of her before, but not I think of her string of pearls.  Her name was Pearl, and it suited her perfectly.  I have in my jewel box what remains of the string of pearls.  Even after these 12 long years, I do not have the heart to repair them or wear them.  I hope someday that Zoë will be able to wear them in honor of the woman who loved her and knew her long before she was dreamed of or born.

I wish you may all be, as I am, blessed with the immense wealth of enough. . .

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