When she saw what I was holding, she sank into a chair, looking pale and held it tightly in her trembling hand. "Nana, what's wrong?" I asked. She sat quietly and then turned to me with a tear in her eye. "This is a very special cross, it was given to me by a very, very dear friend. I haven't worn it in years. Not since she died in a fire when we were just out of school."
Nana took a deep breathe, I could see that the cross brought back sad memories. I sat quietly waiting for her to continue. She looked and me and gave me a weak smile. "It was a very odd experience. You know that I'm a little different in some ways, I've mentioned I smell roses when someone close to me has died." I shook my head in affirmation. "Well, a few nights before my friend passed away, our dog barked all night. My family was very superstitious and when the dog howled three nights in a row, they believed someone would die. That night a strong sent of roses woke me up and shortly thereafter we found out that my friends house had been on fire and she had passed away from smoke inhalation."
Nana paused and glanced at the cross again. She turned it over to show me the back, on which were engraved her initials and those of her friend. "You see the initials on the back, this was my graduation present from Leigh. She had our initials engraved as a gift and I promised to always wear it." Another tear slipped down her cheek. "Leigh was like a sister to me, when she passed away I was devastated. I wanted to put something special in the coffin with her, so I placed this cross in the coffin with her. It meant so much to both of us."
Nana sat quietly for a moment. I looked at her and when she didn't say anything, I asked, "If you put it in the coffin with her, how do you have it now?"
Nana was quiet a moment and then said, "This is the strange part. My sister was there when I placed the cross, so was Leigh's mother. We were standing there when the coffin was closed and taken to the church, and then to the cemetery. As far as any of us knew and believe, the cross was buried with Leigh."
A year to the day that Leigh died, our dog howled again all night. I remember feeling frightened and ill and ease during the night, but the sun rose and it became a lovely day. I got ready for work and as I left the house I stepped on something that was lying on the doorstep. I noticed something shiny and bent to pick it up. It was the cross I had laid in the coffin with Leigh, this very same cross I am holding today."