Dear Andy & Fellow Orchidians
Several years back while still working within the retail sector of
our trade, I was also called upon to assist in a very personal
project that I’ll never forget.
A co-worker took a phone call and told me about a lady who was on
her way to our store. She asked me to help this customer because the
situation was more than she felt she could bear and my boss felt the
same way. I knew the person who would assist this woman had to be me
- you’ll understand why by the end of this story.
The lady and her husband were avid skydivers, had been married just
about a year and were wildly in love with each other - still well in
their honeymoon phase. They only skydived together but she couldn’t
go along on the trip he had made four days before she phoned us. His
parachute didn’t open.
Unable to handle the loss of her husband (quite understandably), she
wanted to seal some of her husband’s ashes inside a gold locket, so
she could keep him “close to her heart.” It sounds morbid to some
but for her, it was the only means of having her beloved with her in
a physical sense. Appreciating her pain, I understood the psychology
behind her idea. And I didn’t think it was morbid at all, it was a
desperate attempt to cope with the un-cope-able.
She arrived looking exactly as a woman who’d lost the love of her
just life days before, would. She trembled from head to toe and her
timid, whisper-like voice cracked as she strained over every spoken
word. She struggled with all her might to maintain composure but
several times she broke down in tears.
Standing behind the counter that day was one of the most difficult
situations I’ve ever faced - her image is as clear in my memory as
if this happened only yesterday. It was impossible to keep myself
from choking up and I came close to flat out crying a few times too.
I showed her a locket that I thought met all the various needs at
hand quite perfectly. We had some three dozen lockets in stock but
this was the last one we had of this calibre - the others were
generic, mass produced models. This was a truly beautiful locket of
18k gold, hand made by a very prestigious 300 year old English
company. She thought the diamond at the center with the simple
radiating star pattern emanating outward from it was the ideal
symbol to represent the spirit of her husband and all they shared
We had to be sure she’d never lose her locket or the precious
contents inside while wearing it. I worked with one of our bench
jewelers in filling the locket, soldering it completely to create a
permanent, watertight seal, and on removing the clasp from a 24"
chain this woman and I chose together for length and durability.
When we had finished everything, this dear, devastated lady hugged
me and cried - I mean really cried - and she didn’t let go or stop
for quite a long time.
At the exact moment she finally did, I confided something equally
personal to her - that very day - March 26, 1998 - was the tenth
anniversary of the day my only sibling, my younger sister, died.
To serve someone in such absolute pain - to humbly give even the
slightest comfort to them - is an unparalleled privilege.
Thanks for reminding me how special our work is.
Peace & Fulfillment to All, Jeanette Kekahbah