It was 2 years ago that my family gathered around the bedside of the woman who had moved across land and sea to bring us a life in the U.S. From the beaches of Casablanca, Morocco to Peshastin, Washington and the apple capitol of the world - her life was one of war, separation, and despair. But it was also a story of courage, belief, and love.
Watching Etoile Hazan (Starr Bitterman) our grandmother’s story unfold has been the inspiration behind much of the art that I create, and a very large portion of the reason Circle3Productions even came into existence.
You can see more of her actual story in a blog/tribute video we made for her.
So when my sister, Holly Starr, approached me about creating this project together, and said she knew of “No one better in the whole world to shoot it…” I normally would have shook my head and disagreed… but in all honesty, this project felt like one of those which I had waited my whole life to put together.
Here’s the premise…
In the time after my grandfather’s passing, the years often felt like decades as we watched my grandmother struggle under the weight of grief as heavy as losing a life partner. I remember the moment she asked us to take her to the cemetery to lay on my grandfather’s grave and cry. I remember how she would stare out the car window for hours before whispering how good my grandfather was to her. I remember how until the day she passed, his coats still hung on her coat rack.
For a time there, grief in my family wasn’t a feeling… it wasn’t a teardrop…
Grief was my grandmother.
It was her waking up at every hour of the night crying. It was her fear of staying in a house alone. It was her signing every birthday card with her and his names.
And most of the time I felt stuck. Helpless to being able to extend more than an arm to hold, or a prayer to uplift for her as she pounded on death’s doors.
I remember when my sister made her first yes necklace for my grandmother. I was in Los Angeles and my mom called down and showed me a replica version my sister had also given her.
It was about standing with our grandmother. Saying yes to God, to his process, to His will, despite how much it hurt.
It was trusting.
It was believing that grandma still had bright days ahead.
And you know, Grandma began to believe that. I began to believe that.
I also do not remember a time that she took that necklace off. Even in her final breath, its clasps were still around her neck.
And that would have been it. And we would have been satisfied. And life would have gone on. And grandma’s legacy still would have been a story to tell.
But then Holly saw something beyond our situation, beyond any of our own personal grief.
She saw you.
She saw your grandmother. Great aunt. Elderly citizen at church. That neighbor down the road.
And so she decided that this ministry could not stop with Etoile Hazan, it merely could only begin there.
That is The Yes Necklace.
And that is the story we will be telling for years to come. I hope you enjoy.
You can order your own necklace, or get more information at www.theyesnecklace.com