Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Lost is Found

(I thought I was so neat finding these)

This is a story that some may find boring but that I would like to record for my own personal memory, which seem to be getting shorter the older I get.

A couple of months ago Dad asked me if I had the box of Christmas slides from our family from about 1979-1989. Hmmm, I knew at one point I wanted to do a project with the pictures of the family Nativity. I didn't remember borrowing ALL the pictures but I figured if I borrowed the Nativity ones I likely had the whole lot somewhere in my possession. I told him I would look.

I was starting to worry that I had borrowed them and then somehow lost them or accidentally thrown them away.  This is not my nature. I may be as messy as a teenage boy's bathroom floor, but I am pretty organized (it's kind of a weird thing). I was worried because I go through my stuff often enough that I would remember if I had seen it in say, the last 5 years. I hadn't. But, I set off with a wish and a prayer and before too long I found a large yellow box with Mom's handwriting labeled "Christmas". I actually was amazed at how relatively easy it was to find it, considering I truly hadn't seen them amongst my stuff.  I chalked it up to my amazing organizational skills.  I returned the pictures, embarrassed that I had held onto them for so long, but happy that I wasn't destroying valuable family memories.

A few days later I got a message from Dad thanking me for the pictures, but pointed out that none of the Nativity pictures were with them. Again, this fit the profile, since my original project was involving the Nativity pictures. For sure I took them out and put them somewhere special in preparation for the project.  I even vaguely remembered talking them to get made into prints at one point. This put the image of them in a photo developing envelope into my mind. This is ALL I had to go on and I wasn't even sure this was accurate.

I started stressing in earnest. I had already been through my spare photo drawer and through all my boxes of photos during the first round of looking. I really had no idea where to go now. I prayed. I looked around. I prayed again. The vague picture of the photo envelope was in the back of my head but  I had no idea where else to look. And I just had the sinking feeling that I had somehow gotten rid of a box that had them in it.  A few months previously I had gone through a lot of my stuff and purged. It's not like me to blindly get rid of stuff without looking through it to make sure. But what if I had missed it? What if it went out with the box of old "empty" scrapbooks? Only slightly less depressing was that it was in the box of old negatives (from ages ago) that was where…? In the attic? I wasn't even exactly sure.

I tried to keep the faith. I prayed some more. I looked some more. I relooked in places I'd already looked. I looked in weird places like the pasta cupboard. I don't put stuff in weird places very often but it doesn't hurt to look right? Nothing… just pasta. During this whole ordeal I just kept picturing the primary children in our ward. Part of the Primary Presentation in Sacrament Meeting a month or so previously involved some of the kids telling about instances where their prayers were answered. Often the story was, they lost something. They prayed. They found it. I was not having the same luck, er…answers to prayers.

I did know if it was in my house I would find it. I had a feeling it was, but I couldn't be sure. Was it in my Christmas Decorations boxes. If so, which one? Would I have to drag them all out and look? I was beginning to feel hopeless. It isn't my mission in life to destroy family memorabilia and history. It has always been my goal and reputation to preserve it. To make it meaningful. What was I going to do if I never found them. How could I face Dad? How could I tell any of my family? These few crazy pictures have great meaning to all of us. I was cursing myself for being careless, for being a procrastinator (I should have just done the project and been done with it - gave the pictures back and never put myself into such a bad predicament). I stressed that my organization skills weren't what I thought they were. I was mad at myself for not noticing I had them for so long. We're talking years here. YEARS!!

Finally I had exhausted all the viable options. At least twice I sat on the couch and pondered calling Dad and picturing myself breaking the news to him, that I simply could not find them. The thought of this propelled me back up and into the depths of searching. Most of my efforts were centered in the garage where I have my scrapbook studio and the most logical place that they would be. I just kept seeing, in my minds eye, the envelope sitting over in the corner of that room. Of course I had looked there a million times already but my last ditch effort, I went to that area again. I knew it was fruitless but was putting off calling Dad. I told myself this was the last place I was going to look.

In that corner of the room is also 3 drawers. The top drawer is almost empty with just a label maker and a few extra cartridges. The second drawer is full of pictures. The ones that, by this time, I had looked through picture by picture. I found many photo envelopes but NONE contained what I was looking for. The bottom drawer has file folders FULL of cardstock.  It's very, very full and I have been into that drawer several times a month for the past several years. There were no pictures there for sure. But, did I mention I was desperate? I looked in the top drawer.  No. Middle drawer, no where else for me too look I had looked at each of those front and back several times. The bottom drawer. How could anything like a thick envelope of slides have gotten stuck there? Especially with me looking in it so often. I would have seen them. I opened that bottom drawer and saw a little peek of red and blue sticking out from the bottom of the picture drawer above it. What? I reached in and pulled out 2 photo envelopes that were stuck to the bottom of the other drawer. The first envelope had nothing important, my heart sank just a little bit. I knew that the other envelope HAD to be them or that I would be telling Dad they were gone forever.

I don't need to tell you! IT WAS THEM! It was amazing. I felt the biggest flood of relief. I started bawling on the spot. I immediately called Dad with the news. He, of course, was very, considerate, and let me just blather on and on with my story (sort of like I'm doing here in this blog post). He told me that he was glad I found them but told me that he wouldn't have disowned me had I not been able to find them. I glad he was so forgiving. I'm not sure I would have been so nice to myself.

Maybe it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to the average reader. But to me it was huge. It was also an amazing reality check on getting answers to prayers. Even though I felt hopeless at certain points and had raw nerves by the end, I tried to keep the faith. I really was trying to listen to the promptings. I have a feeling the reason it took me so long is because I was having a grown-up version of having my prayers answered, just like those primary kids. Looking back I could see Heavenly Father waiting patiently by the side, directing me, but letting me look. Not only did it teach me how to listen, faith was also restored in my organizational system.

And just for the record, I found about 10 other random slides that I had borrowed over the years, that were stuck in random places.

I guess the moral of this story is, don't lend stuff to Stef. But if you do you'll eventually get it back.

By the way, the date on the photo envelope was 2001.

(other important family memories)


Lindseys said...

Good story, Stef. I'd like to see some of those pictures again.

Jennifer Miller said...

I hate losing stuff, esp important stuff!!! Now I want to see the slides!

Joe and Julie said...

Loved your story! Prayer works. And thanks for finding the slides. Now the ball is in my court to do something with them.

karensumpter said...

I love this story. I loved that Heavenly Father knew exactly where they were all along, but let you look...but helped you find them! I can't wait to see the slides!

pelfrey girl said...

slides are important at the dearden household too