Every day, I wear my wedding ring on my left hand and my Gracelet on my right hand, a constant reminder that I keep praying for a miracle for Grace.
Other times, I wear a couple of bracelets on my left hand, a Pandora bracelet with hand-picked charms and a leather bracelet with the serenity prayer, given to me by one of Grace's physical therapists last Christmas.
Some days, I remember earrings, and many have been given to me as special gifts over the years.
But I'm most fond of necklaces. Again, they don't offer a lot of sparkle, but I think they shine.
There's the diamond cross necklace that my godmother, Helen Cox, gave me for Christmas one year, which has always been one of my favorites. And Kyle gave me a heart shaped necklace as a wedding present. I tried to wear both of them every day, but inevitably, the chains get tangled, and it's a mess to get apart.
|This is Grace holding my special key necklace.|
Because I am so blessed, I have been given several necklaces since Grace was diagnosed with INAD last year, each unique in its own way.
The first is actually a Scrabble tile that was re-purposed as a necklace with what's become one of my favorite scripture verses.
"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25.
It was given to me by Litchfield teacher Susan Bennett, and whenever I have hard times, I think about Grace's smile and her laugh, and try my best not to worry about what the future holds.
My next gift came in the mail, and everyone knows how much I love mail. It came all the way from Washington state. Former Hillsboro resident Marie Joy had picked up a handmade necklace out west, and the name of the piece was "grace." It's unique style reminds me of just how unique Grace truly is.
One day when I came to work, there was an envelope on my desk with a special note from Kim Noyes. She found a necklace on one of their trips to Branson that said "Believe in Miracles" and she wrote that she thought of me when she saw it. That one's pretty self explanatory.
So, now I rotate necklaces on a more regular basis, but each reminds me of my sweet Grace.
In the past month, I've added a new piece to my collection, which is by far the most unassuming. It's just a key on a chain.
The key has been inscribed with the word "grace," but it's not the key that makes the story so special, it's the story itself.
Kyle was covering sports one night, and I asked a family friend, Betsy Homa, if she was free to go on a walk with Grace and I. It was a pretty evening, and I was looking for some company.
I've known Betsy for as long as I can remember, after all, she was one of my very first babysitters. She's even been known to fill in a time or two as a babysitter for Grace.
As we started out on our walk, we drifted from topic to topic, talking about her kids, Grace's therapy, the paper, and just about anything you could think of.
Then Betsy told me she had something for me. She said her daughter, Katie, had it made for her after she heard about Grace's diagnosis, and she's been wearing it every day since then.
In a day and age where you can order just about anything you could ever dream of on the internet, this key has a unique story. It was made by a company called The Giving Keys.
Singer and songwriter Caitlin Crosby began wearing an old New York City hotel room key around her neck while she was on tour. She had the idea to start engraving old, used keys with inspirational words. Crosby realized that in a way, we are all like these keys, unique, flawed, scarred and sometimes discarded by others, and she wanted these keys to have their purpose renewed.
Shortly after, she added a charitable mission to The Giving Keys, when she met Rob and Cera sitting under a tree on Hollywood Boulevard with a sign that read "Ugly, Broke, Hungry." When Crosby found out that Cera made jewelry, she asked the couple to be her business partners. Homeless when they met Crosby, the couple now own their own home in San Diego, where they are employed.
The company's mission is to help those affected by homelessness by putting them to work. They have partnered with several organizations around the country giving people a second chance at life.
The Giving Keys are now carried in more than 1,200 stores nationwide and available on their website. Old keys have been given new life with inspirational words, and keys may also be personalized.
And while this story is amazing enough, it doesn't stop there. They encourage those who purchase the keys to pay it forward as well.
"Embrace your word, then pay it forward to a person you feel needs the message more than you." The givers are then encouraged to share their story on the company's website.
When Betsy took off her key to give it to me, she told me she had it for awhile, and just hadn't found the right time to pass it along. Our walk that night proved to be the perfect time, and I think we both shared some tears at its meaning.
For now, I wear the key proudly, for Grace, each and every day. One day, I hope to pass it along to her as part of her story, and the impact she makes in so many lives, but most of all mine.
To learn more about The Giving Keys or to share a story, visit www.thegivingkeys.com.