I've never had the best relationship with my mom, but I feel receiving this key was one of our stronger understanding moments.
I am the eldest of three girls, and I had just moved away to college to study technical design at an art school. My first month or so on my own was fun and good times. I felt I could do anything. I also struggle with anxiety, and as the days kept going by and my rigorous schedule started to get busier and busier, many of my nights would end in tears or panic attacks, and eventually a phone call at 2am to my mom back home.
No matter what time I called, whether for a minute or an hour, my mom always answered and she would say the same thing every time: Slow down, breathe, and start again.
It helped, and I would repeat her words in my head throughout my day.
One weekend she came out to visit, and before she left, she had given me a small gift and told me to open after she had left. When I first pulled out the key, it looked like one she wore all the time, except a different color, and I never understood why it was so important to her.
I looked at mine and saw the word BREATHE on it. I teared a little, and I read a note about taking life one step at a time, and one breath at a time.
I called her later and thanked her, and she explained to me that it's okay to struggle every now and then. Life is hard. But every breath you take is a gift, and that, if I'm still breathing, I can do anything.
The first thing she always told me when I was struggling was to stop and BREATHE, and now I wear the key all the time no matter where I go, and whenever I get down or stressed, I just clutch the key around my neck and hear my mom's voice telling me to BREATHE.