While she was cleaning out her closet today, my mother found something of mine that I hadn't seen in nearly seventeen years.
Perhaps I should go further back. Sometime when I was in Grade 4 (the 1991-92 school year), one of my classmates brought a box of small silver medallions to school and gave one to everyone in our class; apparently she'd written to the Vatican (or perhaps her parents had simply ordered them, I'm not sure which after so long, but I do recall that she'd said she'd written) and they'd sent enough of these for our entire class. On one side, these medallions had a portrait of John Paul II in that so-familiar pose with a crucifix in his left hand and with his right hand raised up nearly level with the top of his mitre. On the other side, there was a picture of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus and the words "Regina Poloniae" ("Queen of Poland", I think). Apparently these medallions had actually been blessed by the Pope, though I'm not sure I believe that they actually were. I put mine on a chain and wore it on occasion for a couple of years, but then it disappeared when I was about eleven or twelve, and I hadn't seen it since.
My mother found it today while she was trying to clean out her closet. I figure it must have gotten caught on some of my clothes when I took a bath one night and threw them in her closet—that used to be our system when I was a kid. There was usually a laundry basket there, but not that night, I guess. I'd wondered many times over the years where it went and what happened to it. Now I think I know.
It's badly tarnished now, and I'll definitely be giving it some time with some silver polish soon. (Or even toothpaste; that works surprisingly well!) But this little relic from my past has reminded me of a lot of things—what I've left behind, what I've embraced, and who I've become since the last time I set eyes on this thing. I'm not sure if I'll ever wear it again—I am, of course, no longer a Catholic, and although I have more respect for John Paul II than I have for his successor, I cannot ignore the fact that he, too, allowed many terrible things to happen—but it's good to see it again anyway.
Nostalgia can be a strange thing that way. :)
Edited to add: I haven't been able to find a photograph of the medallion itself, I have found the photograph that his portrait on the medallion seems to have been modelled after. You can find it here, at the top of the page.