Not until nearly a week later did Jane dare open the small parcel given her by her grandmother. Something of its mystery had been comforting in those first few days amidst the chaos of concerned neighbors and unending waves of casseroles. The possibility of what could be in the handkerchief enabled her withstand the torrent of sobbing kisses and cloying hugs.
Seated atop her blue and white quilt, moonlight streaming through lace curtains, Jane reverently placed the bundle in front of her. Patient, loving fingers pulled back each fold. Like the unfurling of the night blooming narcissus, her prize was revealed. However, the prize did not present itself in the grandeur her young mind had concocted.
Instead, there in the midst of the cool, white cotton cloth was a stone ball, no bigger than a plum. Its surface was as black as the night but as shiny as the moon hanging in the middle of the sky. The sphere, though it was honestly a little bit oblong, just sat, unassuming, unproclaiming, and unexpected. Could this be what her grandmother had meant by all her treasures?
Jane's heart sank. Disappointment had it out with respect for the dead. Resentment rose but was quickly squashed by genuine affection. Doubt made a fierce stand against trust. Dementia seemed to taunt from the shadows of the perception of wisdom.
Twisting out of her seating position, Jane lay on the bed to examine the thing more closely without touching it. Herein the treasure was revealed, for upon the slick surface were etched miniscule words. A hurried scramble around the room to retrieve and light a lamp, and Jane read hungrily the words before her eyes.
"Hold close, and hold for dear
Though life be precious
Time will hold travails
For the soul precocious
Take on the task
Take time, all to see
Then hold this gift fast
And return safe to me"