Me: I like all your necklaces, but do you think you have enough?
Prodigal: I might need two more!
Me: Let me share this story and then tell me what you think.
This is from the book Small Miracles for Women: Extraordinary Coincidences for Heart and Spirit by Yitta Halberstam & Judith Leventhal
The glitter of green stones drew me to the display case. The light bounced off silver and glass. Amid the throng of holiday shoppers, I stood in the corner area reserved for fine jewelry and gazed at the bracelet, noticing its unique handiwork. The beaten silver, fashioned to resemble diamond chips, was exquisite, and it was encrusted with dozens of dark green emeralds. I knew this was a one-of-a kind treasure.
As I admired the intricate piece, I remembered a promise my husband had made. David had bought me a lovely gift on our honeymoon four years earlier. He had selected an emerald-green Austrian crystal and seed-pearl bracelet in honor of my May birthstone. As he fastened it on my wrist, he lovingly said, “I promise you that I will buy you real emeralds someday soon. Just wait.” I loved the sentiment of his honeymoon gift, but deep down I excitedly looked forward to the fulfillment of David’s promise.
Until that time, however, I still loved wearing my crystal bracelet. I wore it frequently, each time fondly remembering the island boutique where we had found it. Whenever David saw the bracelet, he would smile and reassure me that the time was coming soon when he would keep his promise.
It became our habit over the years to look in every jewelry store window. David’s pursuit became symbolic of his devotion to me, and I loved him for it. We wandered in and out of countless shops, becoming somewhat discouraged when we realized that the cost of his promise was well beyond our means. I started to doubt that I would ever own what David desired to give me. David, however, never lost faith.
On the day I found the particular bracelet, we were in the mall during the last week before Christmas to buy gifts for our children. Finances were tight and we had agreed there would be no exchange of gifts between us. We had just completed one of the most stressful years of our marriage. With David’s diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, our lives had forever changed. This fatal neurological disorder had pitched us into a panic, not to mention near bankruptcy.
I looked up into David’s eyes and saw love shining even brighter than the green stones. I could tell what was in his mind. Nothing short of this bracelet would satisfy his original honeymoon promise. But I knew there was not way we could possible afford it. I tried to tell him, but the words died on my lips. He’d had so many disappointments that year; I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we absolutely shouldn’t consider it.
Thinking fast, I came up with a reason to refuse the offer I knew I couldn’t accept. I have large wrists and normally bracelets don’t fit. As the store clerk reverently lifted the object out of the case, I knew it would be too small. The silver and green made a colorful contrast against my brown skin. I silently acknowledged how much I wanted the bracelet while still hoping it would not fit. As the clerk reached around my wrist and closed the intricate clasp, my heart both leaped and then quickly plummeted. It fit! It was perfect. Yet I knew it would be wrong to buy it. The unpaid bills, with more looming in the future, had placed a vise around our checkbook.
I glanced at my husband, my best friend, and saw him beam. This gentle man was now the victim of a very cruel disease. His was a sentence with only one verdict: untimely, slow, and cruel death. My eyes brimmed with tears as I realized we would not live out our dream of growing old together. The jewelry before me was meaningless compared with the hope of living a lifetime with this man. But to David, the bracelet on my wrist would not be just one more bauble in a crowded jewelry box. Rather, this was his love for me displayed for all the world to see. To David, a promise made was a promise to be kept. I sadly realized that he might not have many more months or years in which to keep his promise. Suddenly it became the most important covenant ever made, and I knew that somehow I had to juggle the bills to let him have the honor of keeping it.
“Do you like it?” he whispered. Hearing the hope in his voice, mingled with the adoration in his eyes, was heart-wrenching. It was clear that David cherished me. All he had ever wanted, from the day we met, was to make me happy. I was a lucky woman, indeed.
I heard myself saying, “Yes, honey, I love it. It’s exactly what I want.”
The clerk reached out to remove the bracelet. I could not believe this little object had worked its ways into my heart so quickly.
“How much is it?” I finally asked.
Slowly the man turned over the little white tag.
Two hundred and fifty dollars. Surely this was a mistake! I had seen enough fine jewelry to know that price was only a fraction of its worth.
The man began to extol the beauty of the item, pointing out the 180 emeralds in a handmade Brazilian setting. But even though $250.00 was an incredible value, it might as well have been $2,500, given our meager budget.
Without thinking, I asked, “Would you take $225, tax included?”
I was amazed to hear myself ask the question, because shops in malls do not normally bargain.
The clerk looked at me in surprise, but answered, “That will be fine.”
Before he could change his mind, I whipped out my credit card, watching David beam with pride. The man quickly handled the transaction and we were on our way. Every few steps we would stop and look at the bracelet. Before we reached the car, David said: “When I get sicker and eventually am no longer with you, I hope you’ll look at each emerald on the bracelet. Every one will remind you of something special we’ve done: a trip we took, a movie we saw together, or a moment we shared. This will be your memory bracelet.”
I began to cry. David’s concern was not for his own failing health, but for my welfare after he was gone.
As we worked our way home in rush-hour Honolulu traffic, I wondered just how we would pay for the bracelet. Oddly enough, however, I never really panicked. I was somehow only curious about how it would all work out. We talked as we drove, and every so often we looked admiringly at the miracle of the promise kept.
Upon arriving home, I grabbed the mail and began to open it as we walked inside. Among the usual bills were two cards. One was from a church where I had sung several times that year. It was a thank-you note for my music ministry, along with a gift–a check for $200. I was speechless. I reached for the second card and slit it open. Out fell two bills: a twenty and a five. My benefactor preferred to remain anonymous. The card was simply signed, “Anonymous.”
I looked up at David and we both shook our heads in amazement and then began to laugh. Even as I had inexplicably felt the urge to negotiate our price in the mall, the payment of David’s promise was already in our mailbox. God had already taken care of every detail, right down to the penny.
And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and withersoever thou thurnest thyself.
1 Kings 2:3
Jennifer Van Allen