Slice of Life: The Art of Losing


I don’t usually lose things. My office, my desk, my closet may look disheveled and disorganized, but I know where everything is. So this morning when I opened the drawer in my dressing table where I keep my pins, I stopped short when I realized the pin I wanted wasn’t in its usual spot. It wasn’t anywhere in the drawer. I looked quickly in the other drawers, but I knew I wouldn’t find it. The realization that this pin was missing knocked the wind out of me and brought tears to my eyes. Elizabeth Bishop’s words filled my head: “Lose something every day…their loss is no disaster.”

But this was a disaster. It wasn’t just any pin that was missing. This piece is precious to me because it was made from the insignia on the cap worn by an ancestor during the First Battle of Bull Run, or so the story goes. He was killed in the battle, and his daughter, my great-great aunt, left it to my grandmother, who left it to me.


I felt like I had betrayed my grandmother. The pain and sadness I felt at her death washed over me once again. I searched one more time. But now I was rushing and probably wouldn’t have found it even if it had been there.

It was getting late, and I had to leave for work. I tried not to let my distress ruin my day, but I didn’t get much accomplished. And, because I was already upset, little incidents upset me more that they would have otherwise. Finally, after a mandatory faculty meeting, it was time to head home. As I drove, I wracked my brain trying to remember when I had worn it last, which sweater it might still be pinned to. Maybe I had missed it in a pocket in my suitcase the last time I unpacked.

As soon as I was in the house, I hurried upstairs. I went through the drawer one more time, then moved onto my closet. Sweater after sweater was unfolded and tossed aside. No pin. I moved onto blazers and jackets. One after the other and still no pin. Finally, on the next to last blazer, there it was. Just like that; problem solved.

I felt a little foolish. After all, it was just a pin. My family was safe and healthy, my home intact and warm. I know people deal with much more serious problems and losses everyday. So tonight, although I’m very thankful my pin is back where it belongs, I’m more thankful for my many blessings. The art of losing isn’t one I want to master.

Don’t forget to head over to Two Writing Teachers today for more Slice of Life stories.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: The Art of Losing

  1. I am so glad that you found your pin, and also that someone else can be driven so insane by missing something. What a great snippet of how distracting that can be!!! I love the line about betraying your grandmother–it would be a great piece to talk to students about what the story is really, REALLY about. I wonder whether students would pick up on that line…


  2. Well, Melanie got to the heart of it – the pin stood for something much deeper than just a decorative ornament. We all have these objects in our lives, symbols of love and connections. I am so glad you found it…even though it was at the end of the day, and after you’d been through your entire wardrobe!


  3. Like others said, we’ve all been there, Catherine, looking for something & knowing it probably is there-somewhere! So happy you had a happy ending! It does sound like a precious thing!


  4. Catherine, I hope you’ll get this! I can’t figure out out to comment on your post about the wonderful ways your stamp collection added to your knowledge. I really enjoyed all the different things you learned. My daughter loved learning facts like that too, and had a collection, perhaps that’s why she enjoyed it so much. We just thought she liked the stamps & organizing them, etc. Thanks much!


    • Thanks, Linda! I clicked on something I shouldn’t have when I edited a typo, but now it’s fixed. I’m glad you enjoyed my slice. It was fun to reminisce about my stamp collection.


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