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One year, for Christmas I assume, my mom got my sister and I necklaces. They couldn’t have been very expensive, by any means, definitely less that $100. But my mom never did anything half way.

Her 100% always came in the form of thoughtfulness and care. When giving gifts she put a lot of thought into it, wanting to get someone something that she knew they would love, or that meant a lot.

Now I cannot remember for the life of me what my sister got. But I remember mine was a key. She told his, when she gave them to us (at least she told me), that she picked them out special, and there was a reason she got us what she did.

I asked her why she got me the key and why it was so special. Her answer was super annoying at the time but also very much her. “You’ll know.” She said. “It’ll come to you.”

Now, this was a long time ago, I want to say I wasn’t married yet. But I tend to remember obscure useless things as opposed to important information, so it’s safe to say I’m getting something wrong. But I do remember saying, “well, I do like keys.” And I do.

(There’s a bag of random keys somewhere in my house that happened to be in my husband’s brother’s belongings when he passed. My mother in law gave them to my husband for me and said, “give these to Crystal, she might be able to do something with them.” I actually have ideas.)

Now, not knowing why she choose the key for me bothered me, for years, but not enough for me to stress it. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and I did love the necklace. And my mom.

But through the circumstances of life, one loses things, they go back and forth, and get misplaced, no matter how valuable they are to you. I cannot tell you the last time I saw that necklace. And it’s not been recent. It hurts my soul that I’m missing something from her. But I’m sure she’d understand, she’d lost enough of her own items in her lifetime.

But I recently remembered it. I often do, when keys are involved.

When she died (I’ve always found “passed away” to be an odd saying) we were going through her things, as tradition sees fit. I never understood why it had to be rushed. But one of the things we decided to search through was her jewelry box.

Said jewelry box has its own history. She’d had it for many many years, I believe since she was 16. It’s beautiful and old and full of the most random items, that are NOT jewelry. Except the mood ring.

We went through that box that day, looking at all the little trinkets and knick knacks and items she’d hoarded with the best intentions. Pictures and figurines and pennies. Locks of hair and crumbled four leaf clovers.

All of it has attached memories and stories and lore that will never be shared again, at least not in the most perfect, wonderful way she told it. Memories lost of a lifetime turned to ashes blown in the wind one humid sunny day.

On that jewelry box, whose hinges had been pried off for access previously—I do not know who by, nor whether their intentions were good or bad, there is nothing if monetary value there—is a lock.

The lock is a sturdy one, strong. By a company that I believe no longer exists. The reason the hinges were pried off, was because they couldn’t get to the lock. Now, Mom had lost the key multiple times. Which isn’t hard to believe, knowing her and how long she’d had the jewelry box. There were two keys.

That day, the day she died, and we decided to dig gently through the physical representations of my mother’s youth, reliving the memories of the stories she told about every single item, I somehow became the guardian of one of the keys.

I now keep the key, hanging from a chain, with two cheap mother of pearl style buttons decorating it. I sometimes wear it out and about, and like to imagine that she’s near when I do.

As the years have gone by, as they do in spite of our best wishes, I think of my mom less often, and those thoughts are more often less sad. I’ve had one or two very very brief seconds where I have forgotten, for a glimpse of a moment, that she is gone. And living in the momentary thought, that maybe I could still call her number and tell her, “goodnight, I love you” is pure bliss.

But wearing the key to her jewelry box, and somehow the key to her memories and a key to memories of her and with her, I am reminded of that key necklace. And her reason behind giving it to me.

“You’ll know.” She’d said. “It’ll come to you.”

I am the keeper of a key. Her key. My key.

My world needs you, but you do not need this world. 🔑