I have rarely taken it off even to sleep or shower since Zac gave it to me in December 2008, our first Christmas as a couple.
Although I didn’t expect anything extravagant, I was curious to see what kind of taste Zac had shown in picking out my presents.
First, he handed me a gift set from a fragrance company that I had never heard of. The lotion and body wash didn’t smell so bad but boy was that perfume potent.
Nearly three years later, I still have a full bottle of the stuff. I wear it occasionally because Zac likes it but sometimes I have to shower twice to get it all off.
I was doing a pretty good job of hiding my disappointment about the gift set when Zac walked out to his truck and brought back the locket.
It was beautiful. It had a reddish orange heart in the center and tiny green leaves etched around the edges.
Zac happened to have some thumbnail prints lying around from some pictures that we had had developed. He chose one of us taken in the woods behind his grandmother’s apartment and cut it out.
Shaping it into a heart wasn’t as easy as it looked. The picture ended up a little small and slightly crooked but I loved it because Zac had fixed it himself.
As months passed, the cheap gold started wearing away. The oil from my skin probably did most of the damage because I wore the locket 24/7.
Zac and I were still dating then. There were a lot of nights that I kissed the locket before I went to sleep and dreamed of the day that Zac would be lying in bed next to me.
That sounds silly now, but what can I say? I was young and in love.
Ever after we were married in May 2009, I couldn’t bear to part with the locket. I loved the idea of my new husband and our love being close to my heart at all times.
The original chain broke sometime that year. Zac asked me if I wanted to keep it. I told him that I would probably just misplace it because I didn’t have a safe place to store it.
For our first Christmas as husband and wife, he bought me a small jewelry box. It now holds that chain, my engagement ring and other mementos.
Next, the pieces that hold the picture in place started coming apart. One day when I opened the locket, it was empty.
Thankfully, I don’t vacuum very often. A short while after the picture went missing, I noticed a tiny paper heart in our bedroom floor.
The locket and I continued to be inseparable after that. If I had been one of the ones taken on April 27, I would have died with it around my neck.
About a month ago, I was having lunch with a friend when I realized that my locket was open. The picture was gone.
I did a brief, half-hearted search for it. My friend assured me that it would turn up, but I don’t have hope like that anymore.
The older I get, the more I realize that life means losing things. Innocence, love, people, houses, health, money — the list goes on and on.
Maybe that’s why I grieved the loss of that picture so much. Our smiling faces remind me of a time when my worries were few and a mixed CD and strong perfume were evidence of Zac’s love for me.
Zac offered to print a new picture for the locket, but the only one I wanted was the one I couldn’t have. Some things can’t be replaced.
Walking around with a hollow heart was too much for me. I took off the locket several weeks ago and reminded myself that it isn’t wise to get too attached to people or things. Break the rules, pay the price.
Then a funny thing happened. When I was picking up Wyatt about a week ago, I noticed that my mother had placed a sandwich bag in his diaper bag. A crooked little locket photo was inside.
She had found it on her kitchen counter beneath a stack of papers. I had not told her that it was missing, and she almost threw it away until she took a second look at it.
This incident didn’t restore my faith in humanity, my hope for the future or anything like that, but the hole in my heart has been filled, at least temporarily.