I thought I had it all figured out. I’d seen a beautiful breast cancer bracelet made by The Brighton Company at Leo’s Jewelry in downtown Wayne in mid-October. The Brighton Company designs a different bracelet each year for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The company manufactures a certain number, distributes them to various jewelry stores, and then when they’re gone, they’re gone.
“You Are Not Defined By Your Cancer.”9 12 2011
I had stopped in on an October afternoon to pick one up for my niece, a carrier of the BRCA 1 gene, who had just courageously undergone a double-mastectomy at the age of 27. As the salesperson was placing my purchase into a bag, she told me that her store only had four more left.
Only four more left! I thought to myself. “Do you think you could put one on hold for my husband?” I asked. “My birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Maybe I’ll suggest to him that I’d really like one of these bracelets.” She agreed to put one on hold for a few days.
The next day, we drove past the jewelry store and I said to Don, “You know…they have this beautiful breast cancer bracelet there, made by Brighton jewelry, that I’d love to have. I might have put one on hold with your name on it.”
He rolled his eyes, ever aware of my compulsion to micro-manage, and said, “We’ll see.” And that was the last we spoke of it. Until.
Until my birthday. It fell on a Tuesday this year, and it’s tradition in our family that we take the day off and celebrate with each other. I took Theo to school and when I got back, my birthday presents from Don were on the kitchen island.
One was the new Stephen King book I’d been wanting. The other was a pretty little black gift bag with Leo’s Jewelry on it. Don saw me staring at it and said, “It’s not what you think it is.”
I gave him a curious look and began to open it. Indeed, it was not what I expected. It was so much better!
Inside was a silver pendant made to look like an open book. Beautiful. Even more beautiful were the words Don spoke as I was gazing at it. “I didn’t get you the bracelet because you are so much more than the cancer you’re fighting,” he said. “And I refuse to allow you to be defined by your cancer.
“I know it’s a part of your life, of our lives. But it does not define you. You are a writer, a reader, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister. You are so much more than your cancer. That’s why I didn’t buy the bracelet.”
I looked at the new pendant, listened to Don’s words, and any desire I’d had for that bracelet melted away.
Later that afternoon, we picked Theo up from school and took him to see An Arthur Christmas in 3D. Then we picked up chicken from Boston Market and stopped by Grandma’s. When we got home, Theo had me open his card and present for me. His gift was also in a Leo’s Jewelry bag, but it wasn’t the bracelet. It was a new charm for my Pandora bracelet. The cutest little sterling silver frog you’ve ever seen.
“Do you like it, Mommy?’ Theo asked.
“Yes, I sure do, honey. I love it!”
“Great. Can I have it back now?”
We’re still working on the concept that giving a gift to someone means they get to keep it…
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson