It was an exquisite diamond pave earring, shaped like a flattened oval, with a larger diamond piece in the middle, surrounded by smaller chips around the perimeter. It was set in white gold, which of course, appears silver, and dangled perfectly on the lobe. It was about ½” long, which made it just the right length to be jauntier than a diamond stud, yet more serious than a longer hoop.
And until this week, it was one partner in a pair of earrings that I have owned and cherished for just over nine years.
Nine years ago, I was pacing the sidewalks of 7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, up and down every day, to Methodist Hospital, where my mother lay dying from lung cancer that had only been discovered a week earlier. Overnight, my sister and I became denizens of the world of illness, trying to decide where my mother was going to live, how we were going to take care of her, and whether there was any hope.
There was no hope. Within three weeks from her diagnosis, my mother died. But during those three weeks, during the time that I bathed her, fed her, monitored her medicine and saved her from her suicide attempt (a cache of hidden medications she had been stowing away for this very purpose) I spent my days walking up and down the long avenue to the hospital, and passing by a jewelry shop every day, twice a day.
It was a beautiful little shop. Its window glistened onto the street, with perfect emerald necklaces and pearl bracelets and diamond earrings arrayed. I would peer in every morning and every afternoon, admiring the pretty, shiny jewels, and enjoying their luxury, a far cry from the halls of illness and sterility of the hospital.