My dear friend Suki published this piece in her blog recently. I so loved the message about loss, joy, acceptance, and gratitude, that I had to share it with you. Hope it touches you as much as it does me. —Sherry
The Missing Link
Last Sunday I met a friend at the Ferry Building. She took me to Boulette's Larder for beignets for my birthday treat. These are not the large, heavy, plunk down in your stomach concoctions, but rather little crispy pillows with a cloud like interior, finished off with a roll in course grained sugar. They are little bites of heaven. But, I digress.
On my wrist that morning, was a bracelet that I purchased oh so many years ago, perhaps even 30, in Florence in a little shop on the Ponte Vecchio, the Medieval stone bridge that spans the Arno river. In this shop I discovered a bracelet, the one you see in this post. When I put it on that day in Italy, the weight and beauty of the stones and cameos as they circled my wrist felt ageless. It felt just right on my wrist. Just right to take away with me from a shop in Florence located on a bridge, the origin of which dates back to the year 996. I have loved the bracelet with the same intensity for 30 years.
And then, last Sunday, there was the missing link. From the Ferry Building I took BART to the Castro to attend the Gay Buddhist Sangha I belong to. From there I walked to the bus stop where I talked with two young people about the dharma talk, about karma. A whole other topic. When the bus approached I realized that I had my coat and my carry-bag with me, but not my purse. I had left it at the Zen Center. So, back I go and fetch it.
The next bus was 20 minutes out so I wandered over to a store nearby to buy a Valentine card for my granddaughter. As I was paying the clerk said, "oh, you've lost a stone from your bracelet. I looked down and saw an empty gap where the triangular pink stone should be. I must say that my breath stopped for a moment. It can't be! I must have looked stricken because the clerk huried to try to reassure me that perhaps I would be able to find something that would work at a bead store. I doubted that I would actually be able to find a stone with those exact dimensions and likeness but thanked him and left the store.
As I walked down the street I thought of retracing my steps that day but knew it would be impossible. Too many vehicles taken, too many blocks of sidewalks. In that moment I felt sad, but also very surprisingly thankful. While at another time in my life I would have sunk into regret and loss that might have stayed with me for days or weeks, months even, at this time, I was able to recall that day in Florence with great fondness. The sadness and loss I felt was accompanied by gratitude and by joy. I had had a love affair that lasted 30 years. I could let it go.
I did however, watch the sidewalk beneath my feet as I returned to the bus stop. I crossed two streets and as I approached the stop, I saw it. The missing link, the pink stone right there on the concrete a few steps in front of me. I yelled out something like, "oh my gosh!,"picked it up, and proceeded to tell the people waiting for the bus the story and people cheered.
I cheered. It must have fallen out when I was walking to the bus stop the first time. Had I not left my purse at the Zen Center I would have gotten on the bus and gone home. Had the second bus not been 20 minutes out I would not have gone to the store to buy the card where the clerk noticed that the stone was missing. I would not have even known it was gone until later, some time at home when it would have been too late.
I LOVE that it has been returned to me. The stone has an almost imperceptible scratch and a teeny tiny edge chipped away from where it must have hit the sidewalk. I was able to fit it back into it's rightful place and tighten up the brackets that hold it. I love even more that I was able to not only feel the loss of it that day, but the joy of it. The knowledge that my life was not ruined for the loss of it, but overwhelmingly enriched by the experience of it for all of those years. I feel grateful that I am learning that it is possible to hold loss and joy in the same breath. That loss is fleeting. That joy is fleeting. That life is open ended and that I am living it as I live it, one breath, one footstep, one bus stop at a time.
Photo and story copyright Suki Haseman; A Word with a View