I felt it when it happened. As I drew the seat belt down to buckle in, I felt the shoulder strap catch on my earring and rip it from my ear. Maybe 'rip' is too dramatic of a description. 'Rip' implies pain and blood and it didn't really hurt. It was more of a sickening shocking dreadful feeling. The strap pulled my earring free from my ear. I reached up and retrieved the backing of the earring still stuck to the backside of my earlobe. Moving very slowly and carefully, I reached over and dropped the backing into the open pocket on my purse. Then I sat there for a minute wondering what to do next. I hadn't heard the sound of my earring hitting anything, so maybe it had dropped into my coat or shirt. I got out of the car to check around the floor board and seat just in case, but I immediately regretted that action because if the earring was in my coat, it could have fallen out when I got of the car.
I got back in the car and headed home. All along the drive home, I fretted over that earring. I hadn't just might have lost a simple silver elephant earring. I might have lost the silver elephant earring. These earrings were the first earrings I had spent real money on. They had been handmade by an artist that doesn't offer them any more. The elephants have tiny diamonds for eyes. They are my grown up fancy version of the pair I used to wear as a child. They are the kind of earrings I will leave to a niece or a stepchild in my will. Those earrings were my gift to myself on my birthday the year after Chris died, the year after the birthday of really bad news. These were my thoughts as I drove the four miles home from work. I had no idea how I was going to replace them and I was preparing myself for the loss.
My mother had a pair of jade earrings once. I don't remember her ever wearing them, I just know of them because they are earrings that were lost to her. My sister had 'borrowed' them and had worn them while swimming at the lake. By the end of the day, she only had one earring. I heard my mother lament the loss of those earrings many times. This story is filed in a file in my brain labeled This is Why You Can't Have Nice Things. This file includes light blue furniture and why I still haven't replaced the living room rug that is as old as I am. I can't have nice things because they will get lost or ruined. This file is also filled with sound bites from ugly voices telling me how stupid I was to spend that kind of money on a pair of earrings and that I do not deserve such extravagant (by my standards) treats. That voice tells me I am so irresponsible. That voice reminds me that my fancy birthday present to myself didn't change anything. They didn't bring Chris back or erase the memory of awfulness.
I recognize that the This is Why You Can't Have Nice Things file needs to be pulled and shredded.
When I got home, I carefully made my way to my bedroom. As I pulled my coat free from my arm, I heard the thud sound of something small and hard hitting the bedroom rug. I bent down and retrieved my earring from the floor. Then, after also replacing the backing on that earring, I set it on my dresser to be worn another day.