It was October 2015, about a year before I was diagnosed with cancer; before my older son got married; and before the 2016 presidential election that revealed the deep ruptures in our social fabric. It was four years before I became a grandmother.

All of these were major changes that I didn’t know were coming. Each  brought certain losses with them, and within each was something important to be found. A commitment to fully appreciating the present. A commitment to using what I was learning to help myself and others. A choice to stand up, speak out and take action. An overwhelming love. Hope.

The Big Hope Show

I was thrilled, back in 2015 and before all these changes, to be at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum to see The Big Hope Show. I lingered at Lisa Revson’s exhibit, the Lost Earring Project.

I remember it as a collection of single earrings along with their owner’s handwritten stories about the loss of one earring and about keeping the one that remained. I wish I could read those stories again.

They were tales of loss, hope, restoration, and resilience.  

I Thought Only I Did That

…why do so many of us keep holding onto the single mates to long lost earrings?

Lisa Revson, The Lost Earring Project

I’ve long been a hoarder of single earrings. It’s an easy obsession to live with; earrings are small. They wait quietly in the crocheted basket I keep them in. Sometimes I take them all out and enjoy sorting and admiring them, so they  do have a function, even if only I think so!

I thought only I did this, but it turns out, as Lisa Revson discovered, that I’m far from the only one. What got me started was that time I threw out a much-loved earring after losing it’s mate, only to discover that mate on the floor of my car a few months later. Oh the regret! If I’d only dared to continue to hope!

I’ve kept my single earrings ever since. Sometimes, even after several years pass, I find the missing one. If they’re going to reappear, it’s usually when I’m no longer looking for them.

Lost Earrings and Hope

Hoping to find a missing earring might appear to be hoping against hope. How could I think I’ll retrieve such a tiny object when I don’t even know when or where it disappeared?

But it happens just often enough to justify my hoarding!

Just yesterday I was in the basement doing laundry. I caught a quick flash of turquoise and red amidst the dusty fuzz that — I’m embarrassed to say —  covers the unfinished floor. It was an earring I’d loved and lost years ago!

What is Lost and What is Found

Losing an earring from a pair I cherish leaves a little ache, echoing other more painful losses. The loss of innocence. The disappearance of a long-held dream. The death of a loved one. 

Those losses are final and so must be borne. Yet I can retrieve a missing earring.

When that happens there’s a tiny moment of redemption, a sense that maybe there is some safety and order and fairness in this turbulent world of ours, an awareness that though it doesn’t always see so, I have the resilience to handle whatever comes my way. 

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