One year for Christmas, my sister-in-law bought four matching bracelets, gave three to my two sisters and me, and kept one for herself. They were all identical silver circlets, each bearing a cameo-style oval charm with a carving of a flower and the word “sister” engraved on its face. We all thought this was such a special, beautiful gift from a woman whom we’d considered a sister for over a decade and who’d never had a biological sister of her own, and we all wore them with no intention of taking them off.
About a year later, one day I discovered that the charm from my bracelet was missing. We scoured the house and the car and everywhere else we could think to look before disconsolately giving it up for lost. My husband kindly went the store where my sister-in-law had bought the bracelets and came home with a replacement charm, but the design had changed in the intervening seasons, and though it was still a flower and the word “sister,” it no longer matched the other bracelets. Ah, well; it was the best that could be done.
Fast forward about two more years to when my mom gave me a white bleeding heart plant for Mother’s Day, as I was always ogling the one growing in front of her house. I planted it against the garage, but it withered there for want of light. In an effort to save it, I eventually dug it up and prepared to replant it on the side of the yard that enjoyed full sun. To this end, I had to relocate the hose reel, shifting it so close to a planter that it chagrined my husband, and he insisted that I transplant my poor plant for a second time, eighteen inches to the left. Put out but determined to find it a happy root-hole, I broke ground yet again and started shoveling, turning up the hard clay onto the yard (which compelled my husband, who was now thoroughly chagrined, to quietly deposit a wheelbarrow at my disposal). I’d dug about a foot deep when I saw something shiny just barely visible, buried in the soil. A nailhead, I thought, silently scoffing at my memory of the worksite during the years that our house was being built, the entire lot strewn with refuse and castoff construction-related detritus. Fully prepared to disgustedly pull from the earth a crushed aluminum can or mess of mangled metal moulding emanating tetanus, instead what I discovered was, yes, the long-lost pendant: a flower long buried underground.
“What are the odds?” I reiterated to my family, having gathered them to witness this incredible and happy happenstance. “Of all the places to dig a hole!” we marveled, surmising that during one of the thousands of visits I’d paid to the homesite over the course of the three years during which we awaited the house’s completion, the charm had dropped from its bangle to be buried by the dirt of many months, and there it had lain until our landscaper (a charismatic character named Ralph who has the most magnificently mellifluous Irish accent ) rolled out the sod overtop.
Once the surprise and delight of the wild coincidence had quieted, a more profound reflection began to resonate: how akin this serendipitous incident was to my experience of sisterhood. Just over a year earlier, my very own sister had moved into the carriage house apartment over our garage, a literal stone’s throw from where I’d dug that hole. Over the course of her thirty years of life, we had come together and parted ways countless times geographically, usually convening when people do things like head home for the holidays, but through the decades we had always been there, in the important ways, for each other. Though not all biological sisters are fortunate enough to share this circumstance, I couldn’t help but align the beauty of finding this buried treasure to the omnipresent value of having sisters. No matter how disparately our paths would diverge over the years, we’d always reconvene to walk alongside each other, our steps in sync during the stretches of life we could tread together. We’d each travel in separate circles, as life would have it, until we’d cross ways again and exist in the bubble formed by the two circles’ overlapping edges, a Venn diagram of togetherness.
If someone can lose a tiny silver disc no bigger than a flattened dime, only to have it turn up like a good penny years later, unearthed from the very ground where it had been buried; well, it goes to show that just because something is gone, that it doesn’t mean it’s lost. And even when one sister is in a completely different place (on the planet, in stages of life, relating to mentality, etcetera), she’s still right there in heart and soul, if not also body and mind. And while I’m completely convinced that the universe was complicit in the fallen charm’s finding its way back to me, I’m still calling this the best outcome of all of the times I have caused my husband chagrin*.