Majestic castles, breakfasts overlooking the sea, gorgeous green against ancient stone. Scotland was grand. Arriving home without my luggage was not.
I typically prefer to pack lightly. I once went a week in Costa Rica with a single small backpack. But for this trip, I was ready for all occasions. The predicable rain, the fancy dinner with fancy lawyers, and the right outfit for when the perfect Scottish selfie moment arrived.
When my travel companion’s bag arrived a day late, surely mine was not far behind. I’d had delayed bags before. Despite my daily grumbling, I had had a good amount of hope.
People asked about my travels. I reported on the wonderful whiskey, the royalty, and my fiancé golfing on the world-famous Old Course. I always added my suitcase story.
“Did you lose anything that broke your heart?” a friend asked. I thought about my best vintage sweater gifted to me from a dear friend. Antique white, bejeweled with tiny pearls and miniature rhinestones, it was a perfect fit for me in every way.
“Somethings that hurt my heart, but nothing that broke it,” I replied.
My optimism waned when the airline advised me to file my claim. Filling out the form, I mentally itemized my attachments:
One romantic rose print silk slip dress with lace trim bought in Brooklyn
One all time favorite floor length walking skirt with pockets I’d had for 20 years
One best black skirt I wore on the regular
I could perhaps replace the lost shoes, but many of my treasures would be lost forever. My heart ached with each, and my eyes rolled at the blanks asking their purchase prices.
Weeks passed. I thought about my white ruffled blouse I bought in Boston and the soft gray top that I fancied draped over my collar bones just right. I returned to shopping in my own closet, picking out the red dress that hadn’t been worn in a good long while or the other vintage sweater previously less favored. Some mornings I’d go to retrieve a certain belt or pair of earrings and have the pang of realization that they were lost, too.
It’s been two months now. The airline paid the claim allowed. Unlike the assortment of my favorites, a few items like that purple dress that didn’t fit perfectly don’t need replacement. As for what I truly loved, I’ll not hurry in an attempt to replace the irreplaceable.
My attachment to a single bag of clothing is a reminder of how I hold on. To objects and ideas. To habits and to stories. Some are wonderful and some won’t be missed. I might live happily, and I perhaps even travel a little more lightly without them. But I’ll need some time to be sorrowful first.
I’ll keep traveling, undoubtedly with air tags in my bags. I hope to remember to treasure what I have, grieve when a hurt heart needs healing, let go of what is lost forever.
Are you grieving something you lost?
What helps you to move into acceptance of a loss?
Is there anything to gain from a loss you’ve experienced?