Over the years I’ve added to the necklace. A charm with anam cara on it from my sister-friend/my partner’s chosen sister--heart. A Huguenot cross from my twin sister, a bird soaring gracefully from the bottom—air. A glass teardrop with dried flowers pressed inside from my partner—earth. A compass from my partner’s boss—pointing me home. A red wooden bead from one of my close friends—fire.
I’d often hang onto these pieces when I needed to think or when I needed to find my grounding, and more frequently in these last months of living bicoastally and in a constant state of discernment and transition.
This morning I felt a weird sensation on my skin and I found the wooden bead pressed between my chest and my bra strap. Somewhere along my journey to class in NYC the whole necklace fell off and fire was all that was left.
At first I was devastated and fought back tears as I retraced my steps through the seminary building. Already my heart is grieving that first cross, wondering how to tell my parents it’s gone. How will I get grounded again? How can I replace these pieces?
Ah—but yesterday was the tenth anniversary of my grandmother’s death. I miss her and think about her most days. She loved me unconditionally and pushed me in ways I’ll never be able to articulate. She saw things in me that continue to buoy me—and I know that I am stubborn and smart and fierce because of her. When she died, it felt like the pieces of my heart might never be knit back together. She was my grounding; she is the one who taught me that we call people into who they are.
Now I’m just openly weeping in the seminary café—but now just in gratitude for the life of this woman who loved me. I am in no way surprised that fire is what is left—not with her looking out for me.
So, I have a choice. I can grieve all the pieces (and I will) and then I can choose what will ground me in the next stage of my life. Who will I call myself?
There’s a charm that my sisters and I each have, with the word “fearless” stamped into it. I think it will be the first to join fire on this new necklace. But first, I’m going to let the space on my chest breathe.