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Always On My Mind: The Memory Enamel Ring

March 05, 2020

Always On My Mind: The Memory Enamel Ring

From the founder Jillian:

This is far and away the most personal piece I have ever created.  I have always been moved by so many Victorian-era memory & mourning rings. They sometimes feature a locket of hair from a deceased loved one or a message in enamel—often to the effect “in memory of”. These sweet vintage momentos became the inspiration for a special new ring that is giving me purpose.  Let me explain more...

If you’ve been following Marrow for a while, you may remember a little over two years ago my sweet niece Kenadie started her 28-day battle with brain cancer that ended almost as swiftly as it began.  It was shocking. My little sister–my only sister–lost her oldest daughter in less than a month.  

Kenadie was almost 11 then and this week on March 7th, she would be 13.  There is an Everest-sized hole in all of our hearts. Of course, I am mourning the loss of one of the sweetest souls I ever loved and also mourning all of the things that she won’t get to experience. I also mourn for my mom and dad who lost their granddaughter, for our family who will never be the same again, and mostly for my sister, her husband and their 8-year-old daughter who lost her best friend.  

Grief is just a big, huge asshole.

If you know, you know.  Grief sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting: hearing a seemingly random song on the radio, watching a SpongeBob episode with my kids that reminds me of her, seeing tweens her age giggling and sharing ice cream outside our store, or sometimes when the sun shines on my face a certain way and the next moment my eyes are filling up and leaking everywhere. It’s hard to explain. But if you know, you know.

So how do you take all this sadness and that feeling of unfairness and try to find some light?  Honestly, I have zero f-ing clue. Two years later and I still have a hard time finding it. But what helps is to keep busy and to DO something for someone else. Maybe doing something in her name will bring a little light to my heart and especially to those I treasure the most.  

So that’s where this new piece comes in—the idea has been floating around my head: a fresh take on 1800s style mourning rings.  One hundred and fifty years ago, they were typically black enamel and gold. I immediately loved the idea of playing with enamel—a Marrow first.  But what would the phrase be? I wanted something less specific than the vintage era, “In memory of” but still meaningful.  

In a brainstorming session, someone said “ALWAYS” out loud and just felt *perfect*. “Always” can mean so many different things: honoring a special someone who is no longer here, remembering to always love each other, or just as important to always love yourself, and so on.

I like the vintage black enamel feel so we designed a version with black and gold, but also added two nontraditional colorways: robin’s egg blue and white.  I really can’t choose a favorite; they all feel so special.  

Kenadie had a sage-like quality to her and always seemed so mature, even when she was tiny.  There are so many instances of her acts of kindness. For example, when she was three, she wrapped her arms around a little girl who had just wet herself in class and whispered, “Don’t worry, everyone has accidents.  Sometimes I have them too.” She was three! I know adults who don’t have that kind of emotional intelligence.  

However, my personal favorite story of her kindness was what she did for a little girl at school a few months before she passed away.  This little girl was getting picked on daily and eating her lunch every afternoon in the library with the school librarian. Kenadie made a little gift bag and a card for the girl that read “Ignore the rain and look for rainbows”. She brought it to school and instead of dropping it at the school office, she opted to carry the present around all morning so that when kids asked her who it was for, she could tell them. 

Curiousity won out and several kids asked about the gift. 15 other fifth graders made cards for the little girl.  When lunch rolled around, they all wanted to tag along to see her receive it all. Kenadie and this growing group of kids found the little girl hanging out in her usual lunchtime spot at the library.  When she received the gift bag and 16 cards, the little girl cried and said it was her best day. They all went outside and played the rest of recess. When Kenadie got home that day, she was floating and told her parents it was also her best day. 

I really love this story, because it encompasses the important things you should know about Kenadie: her ability as a change-maker, to be a thoughtful leader and certainly to ALWAYS be kind. 

One of our mission statements at Marrow is to engage in our community in a philanthropic way.  We donate rings and pieces to charities and auctions often, but we really want to do more. I feel called to do more and this feels like the right time.

With Kenadie’s legacy of being loving and kind in mind, we will donate 10% of every "ALWAYS" enamel ring sold to the Kind Campaign in Kenadie’s name.  Kind Campaign is a truly wonderful non-profit organization that is internationally recognized for their work in bringing awareness and healing to the negative effects of girl-on-girl bullying. Kenadie would have loved this organization and I can imagine her smiling at all of the amazing work that they do.

Sharing Kenadie’s story and continuing her legacy of kindness is more therapeutic than you could ever know. Grief is a long and windy road that doubles back on itself like a snake, time and time again.  I called my little sister up a few weeks ago to tell her about this project. I was excited and a little nervous—would she like the idea? Instantly, I could hear her smiling through the phone. She was genuine and so excited when I told her, and I couldn’t help but feel like I have found some of the light I’ve been looking for. 

Kenadie really is magic.

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