Ever reach into your pockets after not wearing a sweater or a coat for months and delight in finding something left in there? It could be money or a note or a random grocery list — or maybe all three, if you’re digging through my pockets.
I love mementos like that. An unexpected something from the past that makes you want to remember the person you were at that moment in time.
Recently, I was in a store I frequent for work purposes (let’s be real, also for drinking purposes) and heard those sentiments voiced by a dear friend who works in the store.
Her niece had suddenly passed a couple of months ago, and I truly didn’t know what she’d be like after this devastating loss to her family. I wasn’t nervous seeing her the first time after she’d been absent for a bit, but that’s because I’m at home with that new discomfort.
I no longer feel awkward or out of place when I encounter people who are going through trying times. On the contrary, I usually reach out pretty quickly. It’s my way of saying, “It sucks now but I promise you’re stronger than this and time will make things easier.”
On the day that I came in to visit her, she was wearing a sequined bomber jacket and I commented on how cute it was. She replied happily, “It was Alana’s!” She lowered her voice and added, “I also found $250 in the pockets!”
The way she responded to me, the joy in her voice, made me realize that she got it. She knew what loss felt like and also knew that she wanted to celebrate the person her niece was. The girl with the flashy clothes who left hundreds of dollars in her pockets.
When my friend wears that jacket or any other item that belonged to her niece, I bet she feels closer to her niece. It’s her way of celebrating a life that was cut too short. It’s her way of saying she won’t be forgotten ever.
The gifts she gave in personality, in her flashy taste in clothes, and in many other things will remain with the others who still live on. They’re mementos of her special soul, and while they might just be items that adorned her physical being, it spoke to her insides. That makes the things left behind special to the people who have to now be here without her.
When I look down at my dining-room floor as I push Rosie in her toy car, I see the tiny white lines that scar the custom-colored lacquer that I painstakingly agonized over not too long ago.
We had to be out of our house for a few days because of the noxious fumes. I remember we couldn’t step foot into that room because of the layers of lacquer that had to be painted on.
I remember first moving the dining room table and chairs back in and telling the kids not to drag them across the floor, for fear of damaging the work put into it.
Now I see the scratches made from the cheap plastic white chairs in which the people sitting across from me sat to give their condolences, then standing up and dragging the chair across my floor.
I used to be the type of person who would want to fix those imperfections. But it’s my personal memento. Those scratches on my floor stand for a time when I didn’t think I could pick up the pieces of my life.
Maybe I thought I’d be broken forever. Those hairline scratches riddling my floor were like the parts of my life. They ran in every direction, with no rhyme or reason, and I felt like my once beautiful floor not too long ago. Scratched at the surface but still strong enough to withstand the hardships that life throws in our direction.
The Gemara says that a person can be characterized by three signs: kiso, koso, and ka’aso. Translated, it means how he spends money, what he says when intoxicated, and what he does when he’s angry.
The word for how he spends money is “kiso,” which technically means “his pocket.” Clothes and belongings don’t define us, but they can sometimes describe us. What we wear or present on the outside is curated, intentional. What we find in our purses or our pockets, our on-person incidental storage, can offer a taste of our personas, mementos of our mundane moments.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.