It’s hard to imagine your grandparents as people in the world.
I don’t know for certain that he bought it for her, the necklace she’s wearing in her wedding photo, but I imagine that he did. His hands must have already been rough, as he held it. She would have smiled at him. Not a grandmotherly smile. There was no promise of that yet. No promise of land or house. No promise of nine children. Countless grandchildren. Only love. And a necklace.
A necklace to be clutched. A lifeline to grab on to when falling so quickly. Falling so deeply into the unknown of love. A necklace to be covered in flowered aprons. Then in flour. Then removed to the bedroom dresser. As children grabbed for hair and neck — her love, his love, rested safely in a cottoned box.
I only saw it in a photograph. A photograph of their wedding day. There was no stylist. Certainly not a wedding planner. No one to even tell my grandfather that the corner of his maybe only dress shirt was curled up a little. But there was hope. A hope of everything to come. Forever stilled in this photo. In the strand of this necklace.
I wore it on my wedding day. Too filled with all that stillness, all that hope.
I could have painted one on her, my newest portrait. But as her look came to life, I knew it wasn’t a look of everything come true, but everything to come. That feeling before the necklace. That feeling as he’s struggling with the clasp. Holding it up before her. Blowing the stray hair from her neck. Placing it around her held breath. All things possible. Mostly love.
…and the clasp clicks.