My sister would have enjoyed hearing this story.
On Wednesday morning, for a couple of very long hours, I couldn’t find Bonnie. Well, you need to know that Bonnie died in October, and what I really mean is that I went to pick up her ashes in preparation for scattering them at sea in a couple of weeks and, to my surprise, they weren’t where I expected them to be.
Not lost, necessarily, but not where I expected them to be. I credit my brother-in-law, Peter, for that fine distinction.
I thought they were in a box that was among the last things moved to storage when we finally emptied Bonnie’s condominium last month in preparation for offering it for sale. There were probably a half dozen boxes in that last batch. Time was running out and things were a bit chaotic, but I thought I remembered carefully placing the urn with her ashes into a box along with some old family photo albums. And I remember moving those boxes in to our rented storage locker and stacking them up on one end of the almost-full space, along with the remaining boxes of unsorted memorabilia left from my parents’ passing and now, most recently, from my sister.
So on Wednesday morning, I unlocked the storage locker, located the stack of most recent boxes, and went looking for Bonnie. She was nowhere to be found. I pulled that stack of boxes away from the others and carefully examined the contents, one by one. No sign of the urn.
I had been confident that I knew just where to find it, but that confidence quickly faded. And I started getting nervous.
Despite my best efforts, in the back of my mind I began imagining that the designated box could have been mistakenly dropped off at the Kaimuki Goodwill along with other bags and boxes of giveaways. It didn’t rationally feel like a reasonable scenario, but the longer the search went on, the more that thought pressed into the back of my consciousness.
So then I thought that perhaps my initial recollection was mistaken, and that Bonnie was still back in our garage in Kahala among the last remnants still waiting to move to storage. So off I went back to Kahala for a look. Unfortunately, once there in the garage, it didn’t take more than five minutes or so to examine all of the possible places. No urn. No Bonnie.
Was there a fleeting memory of giving the urn away? I know I wouldn’t have done that, but…possible? Thinking about the possibility planted a tiny seed in my mind that perhaps….Don’t think it.
Tick, tock. The clock was ticking. What was I going to do if I couldn’t find her? My brain was now speeding, fueled by simple paranoia.
So it was back to the storage locker as I chanted a simple mantra. Calm, calm, calm. She’s got to be there because where else would she be? Back in to the building, punch in the computer code to reach the second floor, walk back several rows to our storage spot, unlock, lift the roll-up door. Stare at the wall of boxes. Visualize where it would have made sense to leave her urn when I brought in all of those final boxes.
This time I used a different search pattern. Instead of assuming the urn was among the last boxes that had been moved there, I looked at the boxes most easily accessed. And that did the trick. It might have been the second box I looked in, and there was the urn, with its contents, along with the original plastic box that came from the mortuary.
A rush of relief. A moment of wonder that I ever considered that she was actually lost. I won’t have to come up with an explanation for her family after all, and she’ll be returned to the waves on schedule.
I would have enjoyed telling her this story, emphasizing my foibles. And she would have enjoyed hearing it. So perhaps I’ll tell it anyway.