I only have one memory of my grandmother. I was six years old, sitting in my mother’s lap, while we watched my grandmother lay in a stiff hospital bed, fighting for her last breaths. In a scratchy tone, my grandmother called me over to her side and handed me a small, pink box and card. I sounded out the words on the card, “Happy Early Birthday darling. Enjoy the present; it belonged to me when I was a little girl, Love, Grandma.” I anxiously ripped off the wrapping paper to reveal a shiny pearl necklace. As my mother clasped it around my neck, I felt a sense of pride. I did not know it then, but the necklace would become my life-long “security blanket.”
Since that day in the hospital, the necklace has helped me get through some of the best and worst days of my life. When I was 12 years old, my family moved from New Jersey to Virginia. I was entering a new school and nervous about making new friends. However, wearing the necklace helped me adapt to the new environment. The necklace served as a constant reminder of old memories, which made me comfortable in a classroom filled with unknown faces. As I grew older, the necklace helped me build confidence. I found myself trying out for the volleyball team, a sport I had no experience with.
Besides giving me confidence, the necklace has made me feel safe, in a time of great fear. During my junior year of high school, I was in a terrible car accident; I suffered from a laceration extending from my palm to my forearm. Listening to the doctors speak in medical language about my injury, I grew scared and confused. As tears ran down my face, I grabbed my necklace. As the doctors began stitching up my wound, I began counting the pearls that hung around my neck, distracting me from the pain. Its memories made me feel safe and comfortable until my parents arrived.
During my senior year of high school, I served as class president, which included the task of speaking at graduation. When I took the stage on that significant day, my palms began to sweat, my face turned red, and my throat became dry. I had practiced the speech a 100 times, but suddenly my mind went blank. I looked down and caught the sight of my pearl necklace. I know it sounds cliché, but in that moment, I realized that my grandmother was watching over me, supporting and encouraging me to do my best. Smiling, I took a deep breath and began my speech.
I believe in the power of a security blanket. Regardless of age, everyone needs an object whose presence provides comfort and security. Whether it is a blanket, a teddy bear, or necklace, a security blanket can help individuals make sense of different situations. Every time I look at the necklace, I am reminded of all of my accomplishments. The pearls link memories of my grandmother, friends and family, and high school. I continue to wear the necklace, in knowing that it will help me through day to day struggles, as well as future challenges.
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