Uvalde Locket Project: Delivered

People approach us with ideas and projects not infrequently related to our lockets. And they’re grand ideas, beautiful even, generally always rooted in honoring the dead and wrapping love around the living. We’d do everything if we could, but most things never pick up speed and get off the ground. 

But Angie Talle, an artist and musician based in Minneapolis, projects get legs quickly. 

In November of 2023, Angie asked if she could float an idea by me for “a project with your lockets in mind to honor the victims’ families from Uvalde.” At that point, I knew Angie because our oldest kids were good buddies. In a passing conversation in front of her house I'd mentioned last September that my nephew was recently diagnosed with cancer, and Angie asked for his name, and I assumed it was to pray for him. A week later she sent a text saying "just set something on your front step for your nephew" and was gone before I could even see her leaving. She'd made him a mosaic prayer altar, with no expectation for how it would be used or received, like some kind of prayer from deep within her own heart, her own inspiration, a tangible item made from her soul.

I knew something similar would emerge from Angie's ideas around lockets for surviving family members of Makenna, Layla, Uziyah, Nevaeh, Annabell, Eva, Jose Manuel Jr., Xavier, Amerie Jo, Alithia, Tess, Eliahna “Ellie”, Alexandria “Lexi”, Jayce, Jailah, Rojelio, Maranda, Irma and Joe, Maite, Eliahna and Jackie. We put together the concept, which landed on making the Big Love Locket for the parents of the children killed, and the children of the adults killed, and then having them sponsored, god-willing, by good people who may also want to put some of their energy into this idea, too. I built it on the website, and they were all sponsored in less than a week. From there, we got started on making them -- here's some photos of that process.

 This involved letters to the sponsors with notes about the lives of whomever's locket they sponsored, with a photo too -- centering a beautiful life lived, what they loved, who they loved, and a photograph too. There was a day at Sarah Flicek's studio to make silver initial charms with a group of women with energy and love to pour into a charm, for people they've never met, in a bow of apology that we couldn't make the world better before it took someone they love so, so dearly.

And finally, when the lockets were ready to be delivered, there was another full day at the studio wrapping them up with Mandy, Angie and myself, making sure each charm, name, and locket was aligned in the right box to be headed to Uvalde, Texas. When those were ready to be delivered, I sent the following note to the sponsors:

"Thank you thank you thank you for taking action generously to gift a locket to a surviving family member of a child or teacher who was killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, exactly two years ago today. My friend, Angie, asked me if I'd be interested in working on a memorial project with her for these families after she made mosaic altars for them last year. While I said yes, I'd underestimated how quickly many of you would, too.

Today we wrote handwritten notes to bereaved Moms and kids, giving them some background on you and this entire community who continue to hold the lives of their loved ones in our hearts. We polished each locket alongside an initial charm made by Sarah Flicek Jewelry. We gave each one a box, a Little Thread, a spray of our signature scent from Essence One and all the love and good wishes we have to share. Next weekend Angie will deliver them to the families in Texas.

Doesn't it feel good to do something? Anything? I've learned that having a bias for action toward the world I believe everyone deserves eases my own suffering when witnessing the suffering of others. This project came on the heels of my own friend, Adam, being taken by senseless gun violence. I think of him every day, and I hope there are strangers like us who continue to hold his life and legacy in their hearts as time passes, much like you've done for Makenna, Layla, Uziyah, Nevaeh, Annabell, Eva, Jose Manuel Jr., Xavier, Amerie Jo, Alithia, Tess, Eliahna “Ellie”, Alexandria “Lexi”, Jayce, Jailah, Rojelio, Maranda, Irma and Joe, Maite, Eliahna and Jackie. May this gift for their mothers, daughters and sons be a salve on their broken hearts. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
And then, Angie flew to Texas with her son, the one who is friends with my son and who connected us in the first place, to deliver the lockets directly to the families. She still wasn't totally sure who she'd hand them to, but had a few contacts and was willing to ask around at restaurants and cafes to see who could get them into the right hands. But of course, as divine activism often facilitates, Angie was connected directly with the mother of Lexi Rubio, who was to receive the *one* locket we took photographs of before the final piece of tape was secured on the packages, the night before the delivery. Angie would meet her the next day in front of her daughter's mural, the murals where many of Angie's altars remained one year later. She brought the rest to a library/grief center in Uvalde, where we released our attachment to the lockets in prayer that the recipients may feel their loved ones near when wearing them, and know that we remember their beautiful lives, too.

When Angie returned, she wrote this note on her Instagram:

"Yesterday I had the beautiful honor to give a locket to Kimberly Mato-Rubio, the mama of Lexi Rubio❤️ who was killed in Uvalde 2 years ago. We are standing in front of her daughter's mural. She was so kind and gracious and exuded such strength❤️

The other lockets were delivered to the El Progresso Memorial Library and into the hands of the wonderful Leite, who will bring them to the Bereavement Center in Uvalde to be distributed to each family who lost a child or parent in the tragedy at Robb Elementary.

The lockets were each sponsored by a loving soul from all around the country and created at cost by Locket Sisters--owned by the generous and lovely Allyssa Hughes.
Each necklace also had a handcrafted silver heart with the initials of the children and teachers stamped into it--with artist Sarah Flicek guiding us at each step in the making of them.

My dear friend Carrie Rodriguez took this pilgrimage of love with me yesterday -- driving me from her home in Austin to Uvalde. We walked through the maze of gorgeous murals with tears and awe at the beauty of the artwork honoring the precious lives lost.
Many of the ofrendas/ altars that I created with my community last year were still by the murals.❤️❤️ Kimberly told me she has hers in her home❤️

We ended the day eating the best darn bbq at the Oasis(recommended by Leite) in Uvalde. It felt like the whole town was there--the sweet tea and brisquit were AMAZING! Yum!

Our hearts were full.
Lead with LOVE

May we know peace, and may we always remember Makenna, Layla, Uziyah, Nevaeh, Annabell, Eva, Jose Manuel Jr., Xavier, Amerie Jo, Alithia, Tess, Eliahna “Ellie”, Alexandria “Lexi”, Jayce, Jailah, Rojelio, Maranda, Irma and Joe, Maite, Eliahna and Jackie.