Well, Its spring once again, always my favorite time of year. The sun is out and the day seems full of possibilities. Awhile back, I was asked why I make my Jessica’s Heart Pendants. I've been thinking about how and when I would share the answer to that. Today, sitting at the sunny window in my studio seemed like the day.
I have been following and messaging with a woman on social media recently who was in great need of emotional support as she lost her precious daughter to a sudden and tragic accident. I kept wanting to offer her this story but it was too long for the platform and frankly too personal. Why share it here? Well, because it is VERY connected to my jewelry craft and I love the hope that it offers, the hope that really saved me. Through this woman’s openness and sharing of her grief with others, I was moved to open up about my experience in the hope that someone else experiencing profound grief will be helped in some way, that they would know that their loved one is still with them, just in a a new way.
In 2017, my beautiful daughter Jessica was struck down in a crosswalk by a careless driver. And by careless I mean he was most likely looking at his phone. Jessica was my best friend as well as an amazing person and daughter. She was a highly regarded Critical Care Nurse who always went beyond what was required to care for her patients. As you can imagine we were devastated by this event but what happened through the next couple of months and onward is what I really want to share here.
Grief is exhausting and all consuming. Most mornings all I could manage was to stumble downstairs, turn on the TV and make myself some toast. My heart was shattered. On one of those blurry days, Jessica's best friend and fellow Nurse asked me to make something for her in remembrance of Jess. I made her a turquoise heart shaped pendant and sent it to her. I was at the very beginning of my jewelry making journey and she suggested that we name the pendant for Jess. One of us posted it or shared it somehow and Jessica's friends, co-workers and family members began to make requests for Jessica's heart pendants. Before I knew it I was busy almost every day making and shipping these everywhere. For quite awhile, it was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning.
I became obsessed with hearts which are something I never liked in jewelry before, but I could feel Jess' presence when I was in my studio working on them. Then other things, (some might call coincidences) began to happen. Sometimes when grief overtook me, I would step outside onto the deck. I'd look up at the sky and see a huge heart shaped cloud, sometimes 2 or 3. This happened frequently. I went to Hawaii and found more heart shaped rocks on the beach than I could count. I went to a family wedding which was hard because it only reminded me of all the things Jess would miss out on. But when I stood on the steps waiting to grab a glass of wine, I looked down and there were 2 small red confetti hearts at my feet from some previous occasion. The heart sightings, as I call them, happened way too many times to list them all here, too many times to ignore. After awhile it seemed to happen less frequently but it never stopped.
About a year later we relocated to another state where we wanted to bring Jessica's ashes, I was still grieving and stressed and worried that we'd made a mistake. We pressed on, bought a house and when I stepped into the shower in the new house for the first time, I looked down at the pebble floor and there right next to my right big toe was a perfectly shaped heart.
One of things that haunts you when you lose someone in a sudden and traumatic way is you just want to know that they are ok, that the pain and fear they must have felt in their final moments is gone. I repeated this question over and over both in my mind and aloud in my desperate moments. What I can see now, is that the hearts were Jessica's way of reminding me that she was still with me. That she was very much ok and that I would be too. Both of us, together, just in a different way.
So this is the story of why I make and sell Jessica's Heart Pendants. Recently I have attached to them the message of the importance of organ donation. Jessica's heart saved another life and through her death, four other lives were also saved. In our new location, I met a shop owner who loved the pendants and the message and now features them in her shop.
I know this is a very personal message to attach to my jewelry site but when I look back at how those first few months and years unfolded after Jess was killed, I can not escape the fact that she was very much with me, speaking to me with her heart and I wanted to speak to you with mine.