Sunday, March 6, 2011

Siempre Stamp

A few weeks ago my friend Susan was robbed. Now this in and of itself is sadly not a rare event here in paradise, where some have more para and others more dise. But the fact that Susan had also just lost her one and only sister, Karen, made this news that was just plain wrong. In fact, she had only just returned from her sister's memorial service in the big cold apple. At the time of the robbery, Susan was in her office creating a memorial video on her computer for her sister's children and was lost in cyberspace as the robbers happily helped themselves to her purse and the usual variety of easily-sold electronic items. Her dogs did their best to alert her to the I-theft in progress but she ignored them until they insisted. She was visiting with Karen, after all, who was laughing and talking and so deceptively real only inches in front of her. She had been feeling an aching void in her life where Karen used to be and the virtual fix was filling that emptiness. So who can blame her for cursing her dogs and staying in her chair with Karen?

The thieves took all they could carry. And while her friends cringed to hear the news, Susan philosophized that at least these were worldly possessions and therefore replaceable, given her recent reminder of the things that are not. And even though her passport was gone and a trip scheduled in a few days, yes, she could fly to San Jose and pay for a quick replacement. As she made her arrangements, the phone rang. Three touristas were walking up the steps from the playa nearby and had found some of her stuff, her passport included. She went to meet them.

"My friends were ahead of me," one of the girls told her, "and I was hurrying to catch up when I happened to look down. And then I spotted it. A postage stamp."

When Susan was leaving NYC the week before, her niece and nephew had encouraged her to take her sister's purse. Not wanting the whole thing, she decided to just take just one small thing that would remind her of her sister. Randomly, she selected a book of stamps. She tucked them into her wallet and had kind of forgotten about them until the girl said, "stamp."

The tourista continued, "I thought to myself, well that is odd, what on earth is a US postage stamp doing sitting here in the bushes? So I reached down to pick it up and that's when I noticed the rest of the things."

Apparently the thieves had sat in that same spot to survey their booty. And there they had discarded the items which were of no use to them--passport, credit cards, postage stamps.

"I was praying daily to Karen to come back to me, to let me know that she was still a presence in my life," Susan said. "As soon as that girl found those stamps, I knew Karen was here."

Folks often comfort themselves and others with the mantra that everything happens for a reason. And while we sometimes wait a lifetime to divine the mystery of purpose, for Susan this was a profoundly simple example. For even as she set about replacing her worldly possessions, her otherworldly ones were restored. "I lost my stuff, but found my sister. Not to say that I am glad I was robbed. But I am."

The booklet of stamps is tucked safely in her new wallet. Having never bothered to check what kind of stamps they were, upon their return she realized the cover proclaimed--Forever.


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