When I was a teenager, I spent a summer in Israel. While there, I bought a ring that I wore every single day. Back home that fall, while doing ecology experiments at a pond on the grounds of my high school, I lost the ring in the water. Just like that, it was gone. It was on my finger and then it was on the bottom of a deep, murky, and muddy pond, and there was absolutely nothing I could do.
The trip had meant so much to me. The places I saw. The friends I made. The emotions I felt. The growing up I did and the independence I forged half a world away from my parents. It was remarkable. I felt like the entire experience existed inside that ring, and suddenly it was gone.
In 2004, in the middle of packing up everything Mike and I owned to move from Brooklyn to Miami, one of the diamond baguettes in my wedding band slipped out of the setting. We looked everywhere, but it simply disappeared. I was devastated. I lost it in the apartment we bought and shared as a couple. In the place where we bought our first piece of furniture – a couch from Macy’s – together. Where Mike proposed. Where we ate sushi every Wednesday night. Where we nested after 9/11. Where we relished in and struggled through our first few years of marriage. Losing that small stone felt like losing a slice of my life. “We’ll replace it,” everyone said, but it – and all it encapsulated – was lost.
And then on the morning of the move, I saw something small catch the light on the floor of our empty bedroom as I did a final walkthrough before catching a cab to the airport. It was the diamond. I found it. I flew to Miami holding on tight to that stone along with every invaluable moment it represented.
Last week, I left a purse in Naples where we were on vacation. Once I realized it (the day after we got home), I panicked. It wasn’t just any purse. It was my Louie Vuitton. (Yes, I’m the proud owner of a little Louie.) I love this purse, but it’s not because of the pricey label. It’s because it was a gift from my mom. She gave it to me when Mike and I got engaged. It was a special time in our lives – for my parents as much as for us – and the purse was my mom’s way of saying I love you and the woman you’ve become and the choices you’ve made and the future you’re heading toward. And I left it in a closet at a hotel. As it turns out, luck was on my side. Someone from Housekeeping turned in the purse, and it’s in the mail as I edit this post.
In the spring of 2008, I took Dylan for his first haircut. As hard as it was for him (he was miserable!), it was even more difficult for me. You see, he had these amazingly soft curls at the back of his neck, and I thought that once I cut them, my baby would be gone.
The curls never did grow back, but my baby – my Dylan – wasn’t lost at all.
Yesterday morning, after more than two years of hanging on, having hope, and doing rain and sun and moon dances, Riley lost his front right tooth. The loss was neither a surprise nor unexpected; rather, it was scheduled.
I thought a lot about Riley’s tooth the night before the procedure. I thought he would be afraid.
I thought he would be nervous.
I thought it would hurt.
I thought my Riley would be lost. But he’s not.
I’m not going to lie. There’s definitely something missing….
…but his spirit and his smile and his silliness haven’t gone anywhere.
He may be down one tooth, but due to Grandma Irene’s unprecedented generosity when Dylan lost his first tooth, Riley woke up with twenty-five buckaroos under his pillow from the Tooth Fairy. (Even-steven is the law of the land with siblings.)
Sometimes we lose things. Most of the time, they’re just things, but sometimes they’re not. Somewhere in the middle, though, there’s acceptance and letting go, occasionally there’s a little bit of good luck, and every now and then there’s a sprinkling of fairy dust.
What have you lost?