Though we might not like to admit it, we tend to live our lives inside our own little bubbles, oblivious to others’ pain and sorrow. Sure, every so often you hear some terrible story of people suffering the unthinkable—complete strangers, friends of friends, or maybe even a coworker who’s suddenly struck by an unexpected loss. And while you can sympathize with their misfortune, you also usually think, “That will never be me. I’m different.”
Well, that was me up until just a few months ago, so foolish and naïve. I had always believed that losing your sunglasses was something that only happened to other people. Until I looked for them one day and they were gone—completely gone, just like that.
I was a normal person with a normal life—good job, nice house, a loving husband, and the most beautiful pair of Ray-Bans in the world. I’ll never forget that day when I laid my eyes on them for the very first time at that Westgate Mall Sunglass Hut. They were just so…perfect. I remember looking down at them in my hands that day, and I couldn’t believe they were actually mine. That very minute, I vowed to myself to take good care of them forever—if those sunglasses weren’t sitting right in front of my eyes, then I would make sure they were always by my side.
Unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, the sickening, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at that moment is impossible to describe.
Then, in the blink of an eye, my whole world came crashing down around me. It was a Saturday just like any other. I was out running some errands with my husband when it suddenly got very sunny and I instinctively reached for my sunglasses. But they weren’t there. As I started frantically looking around everywhere, my heart pounding and a cold sweat breaking out on my forehead, I turned to Thomas and asked, “Honey, do you have my sunglasses?”
“No, I thought you had them—I just saw you with them two seconds ago,” he said. “I swear, I just saw them!”
Unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, the sickening, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at that moment is impossible to describe. With each passing second, as we retraced our steps and ran back to Starbucks to see if they were in the bathroom, scanned every square inch of the parking lot, and even checked inside the car, the knot inside my chest grew tighter and tighter. My mind raced through all the awful possible scenarios that could have befallen my beloved glasses; I imagined them lying abandoned along some roadside or in some horrible stranger’s clutches. It was torture.
I was so beside myself, we started searching places that there’s no way my sunglasses could have been—we hadn’t even gone inside the bank or the Whole Foods yet! But maybe the worst part of it was the looks of pity from strangers as I ran up to them in a wild-eyed frenzy yelling, “Please! Have you seen my sunglasses? They’re Wayfarers! I was here with them just 20 minutes ago! Someone must have seen something!”
As night fell and we reluctantly had to give up our search, we headed back home in silence. I was completely numb. None of it seemed real, like all of this was happening to someone else. But on some level, I knew it was all too real, and that the chances of ever seeing my sunglasses again were almost none.
Looking back, I’m ashamed at how I used to feel about people who have experienced similar tragedies. I remember that just a few weeks before it happened to me, a friend of mine told me about how he had lost his Oakleys at a party and still couldn’t find them. Sure, I felt bad for him, but privately, I was so judgmental. I figured that, at least on some level, he had been a bad, negligent sunglasses owner. “I’m so much more responsible than that,” I remember thinking to myself. “I always take such good care of my sunglasses. Whenever I’m at the beach or the pool, I keep them in my sight at all times. And if for some reason I can’t take them with me—like when I ride a roller coaster or go waterskiing—I always, always, always make sure to leave them with someone I trust.”
“I’m a good person,” I thought. “Good people don’t lose their sunglasses.” How wrong I was.
How wrong I was.
Now, when I see people casually walking down the street with a beautiful pair of sunglasses perched on top of their head, taking them for granted just like I did, I want to go up to them, shake them, and say, “Don’t you realize what you have?” I want to tell them that once your sunglasses are gone, they’re gone—that no one is going to give them back to you, and you’re not going to find them in any lost-and-found. And that even if you get a new pair of sunglasses, they’ll never, ever replace the ones you lost.
It’s too late for me and my sunglasses, but please, do me a favor: The next time you’re about to put your sunglasses on, take a minute to look at them; I mean really look at them. Think of how much you value them. Breathe on them softly and wipe them down very gently with a soft chamois cloth. Show them how much you care.
And please, for the love of God, buy yourself some Croakies.