Three or four years ago, I was rushing out the door as Kansas Dad and I were hauling First Son and First Daughter and a ton of baby-gear to my parent's house for a vacation. I grabbed my watch on my way out the door and hopped in the van. When I went to put it on, I couldn't find it. I really thought I'd tucked it into the bag, but I looked through it and couldn't find it.
When we arrived at my parent's house, I searched through every bag. No luck. I guess I meant to grab it, but didn't. It's probably still on the hutch at home.
But it wasn't. I couldn't find it anywhere it should have been. I searched in the house, in the van, under and behind the hutch, and even in the yard, retracing my steps from the door to the van.
I was distraught. This watch, you see, was the first gift Kansas Dad ever gave me. It was a birthday gift. We had been dating for about four months and had spent three of those months apart as I was living in Mexico. I had thought it was the perfect birthday gift - nothing like jewelry, which would have been too much, but something I could wear every day and think of him. I still remember the evening I opened it. We were sitting on the porch swing of my house at sunset. He'd come for a visit before moving to Boston for the summer, enduring extra flights and meeting my extended family, with crutches and a cast on his leg. The breeze was light; the sky was beautiful, and I was sitting with the man I would marry. He wouldn't propose for a few months, but we knew.
Oh, where could it be? I was especially frustrated because knowing where things are is my super-power. I just do. I know where everything is. Well, not everything; I couldn't find my watch. I searched and prayed, prayed and searched, to no avail. I finally gave up looking, deciding I must have thrown it away or it got raked up with leaves in the yard.
Sometimes, though, things have a way of being exactly where you put them.
Just after Second Son turned six months old, as I was still recovering from my extended illness and he was not helping with restless nights, Kansas Dad and I rushed madly about the house trying to get myself and the kids out the door for Second Son's six month well-child visit. We had overslept. I dread being late to the doctor's and I'd be driving to a new office building. I knew the way but I hadn't actually made the drive by myself before. I was a bit frantic, to say the least.
I dumped the entire contents of the diaper bag on our bed. I thought starting fresh would be faster than digging through it to see what needed to be restocked. Almost immediately, I wished I had dumped it somewhere else, as crumbs and Cheerios from the depths of the bag tumbled onto my clean sheets.
Then, out onto the top of the pile of diapers, wipes and extra clothes landed my watch. Oh look, it's my watch.
My watch! I paused, shocked to behold my watch, the first birthday gift from my future husband, the one I thought I had lost years ago, right where I'd put it -- in the blue duffel bag.
I have no idea where that watch was lodged in that bag. We have used it when traveling, as our "tornado overnight bag" (when we used to stay at my in-law's house if we anticipated bad weather) and, for six months, as our everyday diaper bag. I have emptied that bag at least fifty times in the years since I misplaced the watch and never have I seen a glimpse of it.
Silly as it seems, I have to wonder, was that watch really in the bag all along? It's just so hard to imagine I missed seeing it all those times and it was such a wonderful surprise during a time when I felt like I had been struggling.
I once again have my old watch, the dear-beautiful-scratched-lost-and-found watch, a gift from my loving future husband and the answer to a prayer I'd long forgotten.