Thursday, July 3, 2014


This jade pendant came to me in the jewelry that I inherited after my mom passed away 6 years ago this month. I know nothing about it, but it spoke to me for some reason, so I wore it down to the funeral a few weeks ago.

You should know that the friends I was with during my trip to New Jersey for the funeral are Chinese, and I've known them since 8th grade. Pretty much their entire family knows my sister and me, we've been friends for so long. So when I walked in the door wearing this, all of the Chinese aunties started telling me what a beautiful piece of jade it was and asked me where I got it.

The day I left to come home was the day of the funeral. After the funeral, we all went to an enormous all-you-can-eat buffet. As we sat and ate and enjoyed being with each other, I mentioned to my friends that I had no idea what the Chinese character on this pendant meant, and asked them if they knew. No, they said, but they motioned towards one of the aunties sitting a few tables away and told me ask her, because she would know for sure.

So I went over and asked her, and she told me that it means "fortune".

"But not just the money kind of fortune," she said. "It means money, family, health, happiness, everything!"

The other aunties agreed, and one said, "You can also interpret it to mean, 'blessings'."

I felt my heart melting as I walked back over to the table where I was sitting with my friends. I felt like I wanted to cry, but I tried not to, seeing as how I had just stuffed myself full of sushi and sesame balls filled with sweet bean paste and carrot salad and miso soup.

It was a long drive back to New York through pouring rain for pretty much the entire 5-hour ride. But the whole time, I kept thinking about that pendant around my neck, the meaning of it, and where it had come from.

It took me a few days more to process it. When I told my friend about it later that week, she said to me, "How beautiful! Your mother left you these blessings!"

The irony of it all is that I wonder if my mother ever knew what the character on this pendant means, or if she ever really understood the blessings she had in her life.

Looking back on things, I feel as though my mother was never actually present in her life during the time that I knew her. She was always worrying about something, or distracting herself from things with work or television or crossword puzzles. Even when she was sitting with us at the table or when we were sitting with her in her room, she was busy doing something else.

Part of why I want to work on being more mindful in my everyday life is so that I make sure that I never, ever take for granted all of the blessings that surround me.

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