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Beverly Beckham

Lost treasures gone without a trace

By Beverly Beckham
March 29, 2009
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I keep telling myself it doesn't matter, that I have 19 other journals and that I lived two-thirds of my life without having any. That what I've lost are only words and a few tickets stubs and some cards and photographs. Memories. A mere five months of them. It could be worse.

I need to get over it and stop moving furniture and lifting up couch cushions and tearing the house apart searching for something that clearly is gone.

But the trouble is when you lose something, it's impossible to get over it because whatever is missing is suddenly the most important thing.

And so you look everywhere - on all the bookshelves, under the couch, in every suitcase, through every shopping bag, in the car, in the trunk of the car, in the trash, in the toy box, in the linen closet, upstairs and downstairs. You call family. "Maybe I brought it over yesterday in that stack of papers?" And then you call your best friend to lament. "It's gone. It's really gone."

I have lost many important things. The beloved scarf my friend Janet Butler gave me for my 14th birthday. It was mohair and it was old and itched, but I wore it every winter for 30 years because it made me remember her and us, being Brownies and Girls Scouts together, watching "Fury" and horror movies, playing marbles in her driveway, going to confession and church, growing up together.

That scarf disappeared from a hook where I'd hung it under my coat, in the lobby of a place I had been many times. It disappeared on a rainy, windy October night and I ran out into the wind, thinking maybe somehow it had blown away.

I never found it. Where did it go? No one would have stolen it. The scarf simply vanished.

Most lost things do. My husband and I moved 35 years ago. We hand-carried every box we packed. One I'd marked "extra important," because in it were all my childhood scrapbooks plus a small pink coat my daughter had just outgrown, which I wanted to save.

The box disappeared. We searched everywhere then, too. But we never saw it again.

I even lost my mother's engagement ring, but at least I know where that went. I flushed it down a toilet in New Orleans. I'd wrapped it in a tissue "to protect it." Why on earth my brain allowed me to treat a diamond like a piece of chewed gum I'll never understand. And why my brain didn't at least have the courtesy to alert me: No! Stop. Wait! Look inside that tissue!!

But there was no little voice urging caution. Instead it was clunk, swoosh, then gone.

Gone now is a journal with no monetary value but big emotional value. I tucked it into my overnight bag last Saturday morning. I wrote in it: "No baby yet!" because my daughter-in-law is pregnant and overdue. I put the bag in the car just in case I had to leave for New York to meet my new grandchild that day.

But I didn't leave. So that night I lugged the bag back into the house. And the journal was gone. I tipped the bag upside down, searched through the pockets, searched through the car, and then began to ransack the house.

"It's not lost," my daughters insist. "You'll find it. It has to be somewhere."

People always say: "It has to be somewhere. Pray to St. Anthony. You'll find it."

Maybe. Maybe not. I keep looking. Under, behind, inside things. But I'm beginning to believe that sometimes scarves and boxes and even journals simply disappear.

Beverly Beckham can be reached at bevbeckham@aol.com.

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