46: Charmed

46: Charmed

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive


The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.

~William Shakespeare, Othello

The meat cleaver in his hand shone in the moonlight. “Don’t come in.” He sounded serious.

Arriving home, my husband Danny had unlocked the door. I thought he was coming back out to help me unload the children. What was he doing with that meat cleaver and why couldn’t I go in?

A glimmer in the moonlight caught my eye. Shattered glass covered my back doorstep. Instructing our thirteen-year-old to watch the other children, I ran into the kitchen, rummaged through the first drawer and found what I needed. I clasped the steak knife as if I knew how to use it. After we called the police, we stood guard over our home and children.

Looking back, I’m not sure what we would have done had we confronted robbers. “Freeze or I’ll cleave you.” Come to think of it, we added a whole new meaning to cleaving to your spouse. Thankfully, the burglars were long gone.

Sirens blaring, the police arrived in less than five minutes. They were a dichotomy of tough, Texas men-with-guns and tender comfort to our trembling children — and their parents holding sharp objects. After they dusted for fingerprints and took their report, an officer helped Danny board up what had been our patio glass door.

Tiny shards of glass crunched under our feet with each step. Everything had been turned upside down. Our jewelry boxes were missing.

My charm bracelet was gone.

I didn’t wear it that often, but every time I saw it, I remembered my twelfth birthday celebration at my grandparents’ house. After dinner, surrounded by my whole family, Pop sat in his overstuffed papa-bear-chair. His eyes twinkled as he patted his leg. “Come over here, li’l darlin’.”

Almost too big, I obediently climbed into the cocoon of my grandfather’s lap.

From beside his chair, his hand lifted a box. Not just any box. It was store-wrapped in fancy foil paper. The bow itself could have been a gift.

“Gorgeous!” A squeal of excitement escaped my lips as the deep maroon velvet tickled my fingertips. It opened with a hinge, like Mama’s special box.

As I gingerly opened the box, every eye focused on me and everyone held their breath for the unveiling.

Pop lifted the treasure from the box, opened the clasp, and placed the chain around my wrist. I raised my arm and watched beams of light dance off the sparkling, grown-up, bracelet.

Mama and my grandmother buzzed around me, pointing out the ballerina explaining the tradition. “You add charms representing special events or trips.”

Their excitement wrapped around me like a warm blanket. Pop’s belly jiggled as he laughed with sheer pleasure at my joy. I knew he adored me, just as I adored him.

But he was gone and the bracelet was gone too.

I was angry over the next few months when my children were too afraid to walk through the house alone. I wanted to look those thieves in the eyes and let them know how they hurt my children . . . how they hurt me.

The bracelet was the thing that brought me the most heartache. It was all I had left from Pop. Every time I thought about it, I sunk deeper into a dark abyss, whining over the loss.

A wrestling match formed inside me. I knew I shouldn’t whine. I knew how to think positively, but it didn’t work. I reminded myself that the letter “I” was in the middle of the word whine, that whining was a symptom that my focus was off. It was on me, myself, and I rather than what was truly important. Sure that gratitude should trump grief, and recognizing it was all in my head, I counted and recounted my blessings. My head knew better, but my heart grieved for that bracelet.

Jeremy, our five-year-old son, must have heard my whining. One day he made a little bracelet out of pipe cleaners and proudly twisted it around my wrist. Dangling slightly off center was a construction-paper ballerina.

“See. She’s smiling just like you used to.”

Like I used to? Oh, my heart. Had I been so self-involved over a petty theft that I was stealing joy from my child? Kissing his forehead, I exclaimed over the beauty of his masterpiece.

Love and memories of love were what made that old bracelet have real value, just like this new one. The bracelets were only a reminder. Those thieves may have stolen my jewelry, but they couldn’t steal the memories.

My smile was back.

~Tamara C. Roberts

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