“Here, mama” the little five-year-old hand unfurled to reveal a shiny silver heart. It was the pendant from a long-lost chain that my treasure-hunting daughter had happily found one day as she played outside. The heart had been carefully stored in a treasure box for months, and I wondered why she was showing it to me now.
I looked at her, a little confused. “Mama, here!” She said with determination as she slapped my hand, leaving the prized heart laying on my open palm.
“Why are you giving me this?” I asked.
“Because now, everywhere you go, you’ll have my heart,” came the most precious reply.
My daughter had thought long and hard that day about what she could give me. The reason for this gift was because I spent a lot of time away from her and her 3-year-old brother. This was because her youngest brother, who was only 15 months old, had cancer. I spent weeks at a time in the hospital with him while he was undergoing what would turn out to be 11 months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I was a single mom. There was no option but to leave my daughter and son with relatives during those times.
She wanted to give me something so that I would know she was with me, even if I couldn’t see her. She gave me her heart.
Now, nine years later, as I transfer change and money from an old wallet to a new one, I catch a glimpse of a shiny silver heart in the change compartment. I am reminded, as I am every time I open that compartment, that I have my daughter’s heart.
I talked to her one day about this, and she didn’t remember giving me the gift. A gift that had such impact on me, and continues to mean so much to me never made it into the permanent files of her brain.
We must always be aware that our actions can be perceived by others in a different light than we see it. Small gestures that we may think trivial and are not registered in our permanent memory may be one of the most important moments in another person’s life.
Even if she doesn't remember, I'll always have her heart.