In the spring of 2002, my son Gene was just 21 years old when his heart stopped beating. It was one of those terrible things that you hear happen to “other people” — to athletes, or to people who take those dietary supplements with ephedrine. Nothing you’d even consider from an over-the-counter decongestant.
As I began the road of parent of a child who will never grow old, it became important to me to find a locket to hold a lock of his hair along with a photograph. I began searching the auctions on eBay.
There is an eBay category for “mourning jewelry”, but it’s difficult to look at because many of the items are heartbreaking. In February 2003, I found the *perfect* locket… shortly after the auction for it had closed. A carving on the front reminded me of Sir Francis Drake, who circumnavigated the earth in 1580. You see, my son had intended to buy a catamaran to make the same voyage. Plus, Gene had for many years carried a commemorative coin from England celebrating the Drake odyssey, until he lost it in the ocean.
The winner of the locket’s auction was Robbyn. I wrote her, expressing interest should she decide to part with it. She said she’d let me know. It was heartening that she responded.
Months ticked by. I continued to search for a locket that wasn’t too feminine. Time and again I returned to the picture which I’d saved to my computer. Nothing compared favorably.
One day I remembered a story which stressed the importance of *asking*. There was hope. So, I wrote Robbyn again, expressing renewed interest in the locket. My note must have alerted her instincts, because she asked why I wanted it. When I told her the story she asked for my address.
Three days later, the locket arrived and it was even more fitting than the pictures showed. Along each side is what looks like a boat propeller moving though the water. In addition, at the top the design looks like anchor chain.
Robbyn insisted that this be a gift from one mom to another. To say I’ve been touched by Robbyn’s gift would be an understatement. I wear it always, and cannot begin to say the relief, joy and comfort I get by holding the locket, and remembering the good times we shared during my son’s all-too-brief life.
This locket will be treasured for a very long time and become a family heirloom. It is a gift to remind ourselves that my Gene made a difference, and that strangers can brighten even the most awful of circumstances.
Thank you, Robbyn. This isn’t merely a gift to be reciprocated — it’s an obligation to make a difference in someone else’s life.