Every morning, while getting ready for work, the last things I put on before I head out are my watch and wedding band. But a few months ago, I gifted myself 2 keys, one that said "BREATHE" and the other says "SOLACE". They became part of my morning routine also, and if I was running late, I'd put my 2 never ending bracelets in my pocket and run out the door. Often times I'd reach in my pocket just to make sure they were still there, because that gave me just as much comfort as having them on my wrist. Sometimes it would be late into the day before I'd take a moment to put them on. But nonetheless, they were still with me wherever I went, even if no one saw.
Last Thursday, I gave them both away. Both to the same person on the same day. I knew eventually I'd part with my precious keys, but I never thought it would be for this reason:
Tragedy. The loss of a child. I cannot even begin to imagine the torment behind such an event. My dear friend and co-worker lost her oldest son in such a tragic way back in March. Surprisingly, she only took a week off from work, and we were told that when she returned, to try and act as normal around her as possible… no somber hugs, no looks of pity.
Every now and then, when I'd pass her in the halls of our elementary school, I'd tug at her shirt and tell her she was getting too skinny. It would give me a few seconds of her time, and I'd reach in my pocket to take out those keys, then get all nervous and flustered when I'd remember we're supposed to "act normal". I can count 4 times when we'd stop for a few seconds to chat in the hallway, and I'd try and give her my keys, and didn't have the heart to see her be sad - not outwardly anyway.
It wasn't until last week (almost 2 months after her son's passing) that I finally worked up the courage to do it. She made it easy for me by asking about my brother and his wife who had recently suffered a loss of their own when their son was stillborn at 36 weeks. I knew then it was time to give her the bracelets.
In Arabic, my name means "solace". I find comfort in knowing that my name means comfort. It is also the sentiment people wish upon each other in times of distress. So I felt it was appropriate to give her the key that says "SOLACE". But I also imagined how suffocating it must feel to suffer such grief. So that is also why I gave her the key that says "BREATHE".
I pray she finds solace in every breath she takes. Amen.