My best friend lost her mother when she was four. Now, more than three decades later she can’t remember the sound of her mother’s voice. She can’t remember how she wore her hair or the way she smelled.
My friend’s mother died before everyone had a camera in their pocket—before pictures were taken of every moment. She had little left of her mother after she died. Her mom was young and didn’t have many possessions. Some clothes, a couple of pieces of cheap costume jewelry, thrifted furniture, and a small handful of photographs. My friend remembers after the funeral she came home, looked at the fridge, and saw a handwritten note. It read milk, eggs, and cookies, scribbled in her mother’s writing for the next errand trip. My friend says she doesn’t know what her four-year-old mind was thinking when she took it down and hid the note. She said it just felt important to keep it safe.
For decades my best friend has clung to this note. She kept it safe in her room as a child while her mother’s clothes were donated. She held it dear as her mother’s thrifted furniture broke down and was replaced. This note is her most treasured possession. When she was old enough to spend her own money, she bought a frame and placed the note inside. When we talk about her mom, she says she wishes she could remember her mother’s hands; she wishes she knew if her mother held a pen in the way that she does. She wishes she knew how her mother signed her name. However, she is thankful for that scribbled grocery list from the early 1980s and she has preserved a tiny piece of her mother all these years.
When my best friend got married, she asked me to be her maid of honor and she asked if I would also fill the role her mother would have served. I wasn’t sure what to do but I did the best I could. I knew no matter my efforts there would be a missing piece to her day, a piece I could never complete. During the search for the perfect gift to give my friend on her wedding day, I wanted to reflect on our friendship and honor her mother.
As I continued searching for the right gift, I prayed for God to lead me to a gift that would reflect my love for her as her best friend but also a gift that would take up space in the piece of the puzzle that was missing. My search landed me on the website of a jewelry company that could engrave anything you could scan onto a piece of jewelry. God led me to this and the idea of what to do.
On my best friend’s wedding day, I sat with her, she talked about her mom, and we both chatted about how different it would be if she were here; I told her how proud her mother would be of her. I told her I knew I would never compare to having her mother there, but I hoped she would feel her mother with her. I handed her a box. She opened it and saw her mother’s handwriting engraved on a bar necklace that read, “milk, eggs, and cookies.” I am not sure who cried harder, her or me, but at that moment, we felt her mother there with us on her wedding day.
I placed the necklace around her neck, told her she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and walked beside her on her wedding day.