It was a fairly innocuous question. I was in a vintage shop this afternoon with The General, and I was juggling my checkbook, and his hat, and his fingers that really - oh-so-badly - wanted to touch the flaming candle on the counter.
"Is that real?" she asked. I looked up confused and she was pointing to my wrist.
I've worn two bracelets on my wrist every day for years. One is a Tiffany and Co. silver charm bracelet that so many people have. Mom gave it to me as a high school graduation gift in 2001, and it's one of the most precious things I own because of what it says on the charm. I thought that's what she was pointing at.
Still confused, I nodded my head. "Yep. My mom gave it to me as a graduation gift," I said, smiling and pulling Tuck's hand yet again away from the candle.
"Wow," she continued. "I didn't know people still wore them after Vietnam."
I stopped writing my check. "Excuse me?" I asked. And then I noticed that she wasn't pointing at my silver charm bracelet. She was pointing at Jake's bracelet.
Is that real? The question rattled around in my head for a few seconds. I didn't know people still wore them after Vietnam.
I smiled at her. "Yes. It's real," I finally said. "And it's not from Vietnam." I took off my other bracelet to show her ... the one I've worn since 2007. I tore my check out. "He was my brother's best friend," I started. And then smiled again. Is that real?
Lots of people wear a bracelet for Jacob. My brother's is thinner, my friend Nikki's is pink, and many, many, many of them are worn. Scraped. Misformed. But very, very real. I think sometimes that the bracelets carry on what he would've done. Royals games. Rides with the windows down. Country roads. Farming. Laughs late at night around a table. Early morning jogs. Waving at neighbors.
He's not here, but in those small moments, when someone that he didn't know, or would've never come across - like the vintage shop owner on the street corner in my quiet little town ... When someone like that asks about him, his reach presses on a little farther.
"Jacob Fritz." She said his name like it was foreign in her mouth. She studied the date, the bold KIA on the corner. She looked up at me again and nodded. "Jacob Fritz."
"Funny, smart." I continued for her, "Young. He learned to surf with my brother and he hugged you like he was trying to put a fire out." The words tumbled from my mouth. Graceless.
"But real." I finished. "Very real."
"Will you tell his mom I'm sorry for her loss?" She used my pen to write his name down. "And that I'm praying for her family?"
I nodded at her. "I will," I said. "I will."
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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