About a week ago, a very dear friend came to me. She is on the committee for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in our area this year. She asked me to make a piece of jewelry for their event in June. It will either be auctioned off or they will sell tickets on chances for it…the only problem…she wanted a Tree of Life. My heart sank.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no animosity toward Tree of Life jewelry… I just have no desire to make Tree of Life jewelry. Many people make them, they are all over the Internet. Some of them are really, really beautiful…and some…well let’s just say, not so much. It is just something that I personally have no desire to make. I never have had the desire. The problem that I have is that when I create jewelry, it has to be something meaningful to me for me to do it justice. I honestly usually struggle with commission work.
So, I went home from school and I thought, and I thought about it. I did some research and I thought some more. In order to create a piece that would be worthy of the Relay for Life auction, I had to really make this piece a part of me.
I have had some experience with cancer in my family. I lost a close friend and family member to leukemia when we were 16 years old. Outside of that most of my experience has been with colon cancer. My ex-husband (and father of my 2 oldest children) lost his battle with colon cancer at age 43). My grandmother had it. And, the one that impacted my life the most…my dad had it.
My youngest son was born on my birthday. The day that he was born, my dad got out of the hospital from having his cancer surgery. Every year on that day when I wake up, I don’t think, “Yay! Today’s my birthday!”, or, “Yay! Today is Taylor’s birthday!” My first thought every year on that day is…”MY DAD IS CANCER FREE!” This year, in June, on that day it will be 13 years.
So, I knew that in order for this necklace to be the best Tree of Life that I could do, I had to put my experiences into the process. I planned, and sketched and planned some more, drawing on my experiences and feelings.
This is a one of a kind piece. I will not be duplicating this piece ever. Every piece of this pendant has meaning…at least to me…
- The tree is growing in a heart. The heart signifies the family and loved ones that surround and support the survivor.
- The side of the heart, opposite the tree is hammered. This is to signify the emotional beating and heartbreak those loved ones go through.
- The piece is done in copper that has a dark patina. That signifies the dark days that follow a diagnosis.
- The amethyst leaves on the tree are for the lavender color that represents all cancers.
- The knotted and twisted tree itself represents the scars, both physical and emotional, that survivors suffer.
- The tree is in full bloom on the top right, but the blooms are sparse on the top left and bottom. That is because the healing process is long and drawn out. It takes time for a bud of healing to sprout here and there until eventually, that survivor feels beautiful and in full bloom again.
This may not be the most beautiful tree of life that was ever made…but it has a lot of meaning for me. And, it tells my story.