my heart looks like your heart

my heart looks like your heart

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

peace on my skin

this necklace carries very special meaning and is extremely important to me.  it was made by my lifelong friend, richie pavlak. 

this necklace kind of earmarks the beginning of our friendship.  it was the first of many pieces that richie made for me.  and it was a total surprise, as he would later tell me our friendship was to him. 

when i first met richie, he was getting coffee at starbucks.  i was leaving and had one hand on the door when i saw him through the corner of my eye.  he was trying to get his wheelchair close enough to the counter and get his coffee without any trouble.  i did the worst thing.  i immediately let go of the door and walked over to help him.  the reason this was the worst thing, is because i would soon learn that that is exactly what richie would not have wanted anyone to do.  he "could get his own damn coffee by himself, dammit!"

the next time i saw him, again at starbucks, i noticed he was wearing a ring that was identical to one of mine.  it was silver and turquoise, made on a reservation.  i mentioned it to him (how serendipitous!?) and we soon discovered our mutual love for jewelry.  two weeks later at what was now our new favorite meeting place, he asked me to come speak with him before i left.  when i did, he presented me with this necklace.  i was so moved, i did what i always do at the feet of genuine kindness:  i cried.  i told him i had nothing to pay him with and that i had already spent my money on coffee ... we both laughed but he said, "i don't want any money for it. i made it for you. if you will wear it, that will make me very happy.  that will be worth more than any payment."

another thing i did not know at this point was that making jewelry was part of richie's therapy to regain the use of his hands.  he had been severely injured in a skiing accident and was too strong of a spirit to listen to the doctors when they told him there were things he would never be able to do again.  he went on to make more pieces than I could have ever imagined.  years later we joined him at events where he set up tables of displays, full of his work to sell, and my children were thrilled to help him. 

he joined us for lunch and live music in the park in our historical downtown district. 

we went restaurant hopping, sometimes just the two of us, and sometimes with my children in tow. 

richie lived in a nursing home when we met, and along the course of our friendship he was able to move out on his own into an apartment.  he was sooo very proud of this.  at christmas we made dough ornaments and brought him a christmas tree filed with homemade love.  it was a wonderful experience for us, and we have been forever touched by the way richie allowed us into his life, into his world. 

i have many pieces from him and i treasure them all, but this one is different.  this one was the beginning.  

richie's passing was unexpected and shocking to me ... and this necklace brings him back to me.  back to the beginning.  the kindness in his eyes.  the excitement in his face when he saw this on my neck.  
it is the sound of his voice.
it is the work of his hands. 
it is his spirit.
it is his heart.  
it is peace.  on my skin. 

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