One of my mom’s clients from her hair salon owned a trinket shop in our small town. During the holidays my mom and I would go there to look at the Christmas ornaments. We could afford to buy one new ornament for the tree each year, so we had to look at each one and carefully decide what to get.

There were so many ornaments to choose from: glass bulbs with painted Christmas scenes, tin animals and stars, delicate glass reindeer and snowmen, beautiful angel toppers with elaborate dresses, painted wooden houses and trees, crystal snowflakes covered in glitter. Everything was so pretty and fancy and sparkly.

“Whatever we pick out will be on our tree for a long, long time,” my mom said. “It might even be on your own tree when you’re an old lady. And your kids will ask you where it’s from and you can tell them you picked it out with your mama when you were five years old.”

“But you’ll still be there, too, right? ‘Til you’re 100?” I said. Almost daily, I made my mom promise me that she was going to live until she was 100 years old, and I would be 82 and we would die together, peacefully, holding hands. I couldn’t imagine life without her and yet my mind forced me to consider the painful possibility multiple times per day.

“A hundred and one,” she said.

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