Saturday, January 28, 2012

Arriving at peace with the things we lose.

Since I posted about losing my pendant a few months ago, I have been touched by all the people who inquired about how I was doing and how my hunt was going. You guys. Thank you. Seriously, for such a rough ride, it has truly been comforting to have people let me know they cared about something I was afraid people would find so materialistic and inconsequential. The stories people shared with me about their own touchstones and the things they've lost over the years will be carried in my heart.

My necklace.

My original relic pendant, photo taken several years ago.

As for my own journey, it has had its ups and downs. After I wrote the original post about losing the Padre Pio relic, I tried to brainstorm ideas that would help me cope with this thing I was not only grieving for, but felt embarrassed to be grieving for. I scoured the internet, set up all sorts of Google alerts and eBay alerts, contacted vintage jewelry and religious medal dealers. I genuinely feel I reached the end of the internet, which was both disappointing and weird.

(I thought the end of the internet would be like the end of the rainbow, only instead of a pot of gold it would probably have ended at 4chan. [If you know what 4chan is, I'm sorry. (If you DON'T know what 4chan is, don't google it. [Seriously, don't. (OMG, WHY DIDN'T YOU LISTEN TO ME?)])]).

In the beginning I only ever did find the two mates I mentioned, one belonging to the blogger who found one at a flea market last year and one on the "Sold" section of an obscure vintage jewelry website. I never heard back from the latter, but the former turned out to be a sweetheart who pitied my plight. She was even open to potentially taking her relic to a local jeweler if I was able to find one skilled enough to replicate it without harming the original.

El Hub was amazing during this time. Making a replica was even his idea, the smartie pants. And man oh man, he didn't even blink when I came to him after a few days and announced I thought I wanted to get a tattoo of my relic. He LOATHES tattoos, and his response was for me to do what I needed to do. Guys, that's HUGE. And back off, he's mine, I'm keeping him.

So I started researching tattoos alongside jewelers up where the blogger lives. The National Centre for Padre Pio was the only organization to even recognize the medal I was referring to, but said they had not seen one in several years. They even had their employees search their desks in case one was hidden away. It made sense since I received mine about 15 years ago, but it was still a blow to hear.

Then the next day I received another call from them, absolutely elated to tell me that the President of their organization searched his desk...and FOUND one. I was blown away. I squealed, I cried. The timing was amazing because I was on my way to a doctor's appointment, and it would have been the first one in 15 years that I hadn't worn my medal to. Call me superstitious, but that phone call made me feel like it was with me, in a way.

So they mailed it to me. I eagerly anticipated its arrival, checked the mail every day like a little kid waiting for birthday presents from distant relatives. It arrived...

Padre Pio relic, in honor of his beatification.

Someday, when I win the lottery, I'll get a macro lens. Until then, suffer my blurry faux-close-up photos.

...and it wasn't a match. It was incredibly similar - the image of Padre Pio on the one side is essentially the same, and the relic side (pictured) has a starburst effect of lines radiating out from the center. But instead of saying "relic," it has the date of Padre Pio's 1999 beatification, which makes it several years newer than my original pendant.

It was a letdown initially. I wore it, but it wasn't the same. But I knew going into my search for a replacement that any I found wouldn't be the original. It wouldn't be the one my mother gave me, the one that accompanied me on days of uncertainty, the one I pinned inside my wedding dress, the one I wore while I gave birth to my son. So I decided to make peace with the new one. To give it another 15 years, and by then I will probably feel similarly about it as I did about my original. Give it time to have a history.


Padre Pio relic, pre-canonization.


...a match showed up on eBay. A relic like my original relic. I thought about how much we had been willing to budget on a replica of the blogger's pendant, and decided to allocate that much money to bidding on an actual original as opposed to a copy. And it's a good thing I did, because someone had to nerve to bid against me. BACK OFF, ANONYMOUS EBAY BIDDER. IT'S MINE.

And it is mine. But when it arrived in the mail, here is the thing that surprised me, the thing I am grateful for - I didn't feel the burning need for it. The intensity of my grieving in the beginning was less raw now. Over the past few months, I had worked hard to begin healing, in my actions and my thoughts. And it was working. Am I grateful to have this relic? Yes. Again, give me another 15 years, and I imagine I will feel as strongly about this one as I did my first one. But I am also grateful for the lessons losing my touchstone has taught me.

The lesson I have learned from this is that I am stubborn. Oh wait, that's not a lesson, I totally knew that. Okay, so the lesson I have learned from this is that it is possible to carry a touchstone in your heart, even when it is no longer in your hands. For me, in order to find that find peace, I had to overcome the obstacles of putting in the work, and feeling content that I searched exhaustively before arriving at that place. Even if I had never found similar relics, I am convinced I would have reached peace from knowing I did everything I could. No one can ever take away the memories.

So that's my story. I started out with one relic, then none, and now two. I was sad, I was determined, and I am at peace. People who know me and people who don't know me cared enough about my story to speak to me about it, to search for me, and to brainstorm with me. Thank you.

Two Padre Pio relics.

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