Jessica turned 25 this month. Twenty five! My beautiful little baby girl is a quarter-century year old! I have two short, happy stories for you.
A few days before she and Alex were due at the farm for a family birthday dinner, I was at the grocery store gathering supplies, and something simple and wonderful happened. A grocery store clerk asked whether I had any fun plans for the upcoming weekend, and the answer rolled up from my belly and into my mouth. I almost started giggle-crying from happiness. For so many years, being separated from my children made their birthdays bittersweet, at best. Many years it was excruciatingly sad for all of us. But as that clerk asked me about my weekend plans, the truth all bloomed in my mouth. That is the past. I am no longer expected to relive that pain. Today, right now, at that moment when the clerk asked me about my weekend, I was free to enjoy party planning and family celebrations. She was home for real. I didn’t spill all of this to the innocent clerk, of course, but I did gush about Jess to a stranger, and I did talk about our plans. She said, “That’s really nice.” Ha.
That weekend we ate a garlicky shrimp boil and played outside with bubbles and dogs and horses. We let the dogs swim and chase, and we all talked and laughed so much. Since we see each other pretty often and talk virtually every day, we feel pretty caught up in each other’s lives. Celebrating really gets to be celebrating, and I love that!
Besides sharing this maternal joy with you, I want to tell you the story of Jessica’s birthday gift this year. I enlisted the artistry and generosity of our friend Trisha, and we all were blown away by the results!
Trisha is a self taught jewelry maker. She singlehandedly runs a lovely Etsy shop called “WhiskeyBangle,” and she has expanded her style lots over the past few years. I asked Trisha if she could help me repair then redesign one of my pearl necklaces for Jessica’s milestone birthday, and man did she deliver.
This was one of four pearl necklaces Handsome gifted me around the time we got engaged, so it is precious. Each necklace is a different color of pearls, and I chose for the redesign the color has always made me think of Jess, even when she was a little girl. It’s almost but not quite rose gold, definitely a glowy, blushing hue. The pearls are irregularly shaped because they were collected naturally in Japan, not cultured. I treasure every one of them.
I brought the necklace to Trisha and told her Jessica’s birthstone is peridot. My only request was that she shorten my necklace to collarbone length for Jess and save the extra pearls for a future project for me to continue wearing. I loved the idea of both of us wearing pearls from the same piece, a reinforcement of the heirloom nature of the gift.
Trish brainstormed a while and mined through her abundant gemstones and beads; then she texted me the most beautiful idea.
With a rounded rectangular centerpiece flanked by peridot seed beads then pearls all the way around to the elegant metal clasp, she created a “Past-Present-Future” heirloom necklace, meant to be worn a bit asymmetrically. I loved it. She attended to every detail. The clasp has a little glittering bling in it and is suited for Jessica being right handed. The tones are all unusual and complimentary. The scale of everything is just perfect.
Most importantly, I know that Trisha, a mother herself, crafted it lovingly. She understood the gravity of the milestone and the opportunity to create and pass along a true heirloom. If Jessica and Alex have children, this necklace could become “Mom’s 25th birthday necklace that was made from Grandma’s engagement pearls.” (I hope everyone will forgive me for dreaming that up.)
When we gave it to Jessica at her birthday dinner, I felt so happy. She looked beautiful wearing it, of course, and it glowed on her skin. She absolutely understood the importance of us sharing my pearls with her, and it was really fun to see her enjoy all the stones and details.
I think she wore it to work every day that next week, and as hoped, it looked stunning with a variety of outfits. Most importantly, I knew she felt loved and connected to us. Jessica has endured untold difficulty in twenty five years. She has made mistakes and grown from them like everyone. She has become a gorgeous, smart, driven young woman who still gives us glimpses of the little girl we always loved, even in those years apart.
I cannot sufficiently thank our friend for working so hard and so lovingly on this very special gift. I also cannot say how much I love our girl, how amazing it feels to celebrate her twenty fifth birthday. And how wonderful to get to tell that grocery store clerk, veiling such a long sad saga, that yes, I was shopping for a shrimp boil dinner and planned to make a layered lemon cake for my daughter’s birthday.
It was really nice, indeed.