You know, sometimes husbands just get things right. And I mean really right. For my first wedding anniversary, my DH gave me a gold charm bracelet with one charm on it, a sand dollar. Every anniversary since, he’s added a charm to it. Because we got married in Boca Grande on a Memorial Day Weekend and still go to Boca Grande every Memorial Day Weekend, most often that charm is purchased down there.
This year, I picked out a pretty little diamond-cut crab, my 12th charm. Previous years have included a golf cart, symbolizing all the fun we had running around in the golf cart with the girls last year; a conch shell, for all the conch shells we found on that sandbar we dubbed the “conch shell graveyard” in 2005; a mother and baby manatee, for the pod of manatees who greeted us first thing that Saturday morning, just 10 feet off the beach, in 2004…one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, especially since when I got in the water with them they didn’t swim away, just came up to me and checked me out; a ladybug for the birth of my two little ladybugs in 2003; and a dolphin for the pair of dolphins who kept jumping out of the water right next to our boat on our way to Cabbage Key in 2002. I can’t remember the order from there, but it holds a seahorse, starfish, clam shell, sting ray and a few others I can’t picture right now. Why? Because I lost it yesterday. I was heartbroken.
I realized it was gone about 7pm last night when I went to change out of my work clothes. DH and I searched everywhere I had been since I had gotten home but didn’t find it. Right after I got the girls out of the tub, I threw on a t-shirt and jeans and set out to retrace my steps for the day. I had a meeting on Downtown campus yesterday afternoon, so I started there with the help of a wonderful security guard who traced my steps with me and let me into the office suite and conference room in which my meeting took place. No luck. He wrote down my name, number and a description and said he’d ask everyone to keep an eye out for it. From there, I came back to my campus and retraced my steps there. I even went back to the Loop where I had gone for lunch. On the way back home, I stopped by the girls pre-school and looked around outside there, and then checked with the office there this morning. No luck anywhere. Nothing. DH knew my trip last night was in vain, but I had to give it a shot anyway. I sent out an all campus email to both campuses asking everyone to keep an eye out for it, and I’ve gotten some sweet notes back hoping that I’m able to find such a sentimental piece. I’ll keep hoping.
When I was driving home last night, I started thinking about other special things I had lost over the years. I thought of my 4th grade elementary school yearbook I must have lost in a move. Why was it so important? Because it contained the scratched out school picture of one Roger Corn. You see, Roger was my first “real” boyfriend, if you can have those in 4th grade. He sent me the official “Do you like me? Check Yes or No” note on the bus on the way home from school one day. I remember riding my bike to his baseball games, without my parents’ knowledge because I wasn’t allowed to ride that far. Here’s my confession, Dad. In 4th grade, I used to ride my bike all the way to Roger Corn’s baseball games. There, now you know. Apparently, Roger and I must have had quite a 4th grade falling out since I scribbled him away with black ink. To this day, I can’t remember what caused our demise.
And I often think about Bear Man. Bear Man was the most wonderful yellow lab. He was very tall for a lab, and we could never keep him in the yard because he’d always jump the fence. When we moved to our current home, I always worried about losing him to our very busy street, but he was very street smart. He’d walk down to the bridge to visit the fisherman, or swim down the river a bit to catch up with a friend farther down the island. Everyone on the island knew him. He’d gotten so old, and I knew his shoulders hurt him badly. Yet even though we often had to help him up the stairs and knew we needed to have him put to sleep, we just couldn’t do it. Then, on the day I came home from the hospital after delivering the girls, he was gone. Just gone. Lost. Nowhere to be found. I’ve often heard that animals will go off on their own when they know they are going to die. I believe Bear had just been hanging on as long as he could for us, and he somehow knew that now that we had two little ones to take care of, he could go on his way across that Rainbow Bridge. We never found him. To this day, four years later, I still instinctively scan the river and marsh for him every time I cross the Brown’s Creek Bridge.
After thinking about all that on a rainy Tuesday night, I was definitely not in the happiest of spirits. When I got home, I went upstairs to kiss the girls goodnight, then climbed in bed with DH, and being the weather junkie that I am, turned on the Weather Channel’s Evening Edition. Alexandra and Paul were reporting the latest updates on the flash flooding in Texas. When I heard the news that the bodies of the missing two-year-old, her five-year-old sister and their grandmother had been found, losing my bracelet just didn’t matter anymore. My heart went out to that family and their entire community, and I cried myself to sleep thinking about them.
Being a parent, I now fully understand that there is nothing worse in this world than losing a child. A charm bracelet really can be replaced; it may not be exactly the same, but it can be replaced. An elementary school yearbook may hold wonderful memories and probably is irreplaceable, but when it comes down to it, it was still just a bunch of paper bound together with a purple faux leather cover stamped Northwest Christian Academy 1974. And yes, dogs are man’s best friends and truly become part of our families and our hearts, but we all know they don’t live forever and we must enjoy their unconditional love as long as they are with us. But a two-year-old child….a five-year-old child…and their grandmother desperately trying to keep them safe. That is something that can never be recovered. Nor replaced. Nor forgotten. Please remember them, these families, all families who have suffered the loss of a child, in your prayers. And cherish yours for the miracles they are.
Update: Read this post. :-)