by Judy Gruen
I clicked the seat belt securely, then felt the gold chain slip off my neck. I felt sick. If the chain had come loose, my beautiful gold pendant might have fallen off earlier, while I had been Chanukah shopping in the mall, all 870,000 square feet of it. It would take a miracle to find it there.
Years earlier I had bought this little bauble, less than a half-inch in diameter, smitten by its shimmering shades of green, red and burgundy cloisonné, in a heart-within-a-heart motif. A tiny diamond set inside reflected the light and added to its understated elegance. I loved that pendant.
It had been an expensive impulse purchase, and I had always felt a little guilty for my splurge. But it had been a numbered limited edition by a gifted designer, his name engraved in gold on the back. I couldn’t resist. But after a few years, it disappeared. Eventually, I gave it up for lost.
Three years later, while reorganizing my dresser, my pendant winked at me from an island of bras and panties I had dumped on my bed. I was shocked. How had it landed there, and remained undiscovered for so long? I thanked God for returning it to me. I vowed to be more careful.
You can imagine the awful déjà vu I experienced at the mall. This time, my pendant would not magically reappear in a drawer back at home.
I tried to console myself: You enjoyed it for several years. Count your blessings.
And yet. . . it was nearly Chanukah, a holiday of miracles. In the Chanukah story, something very small and valuable; a cruse of pure oil -- did show up in a totally unexpected way. Why not at least try? I reported it missing to the management office, and then, my eyes alert and my head to the ground, I began to retrace my steps, floor after floor, store after store. My hopes sank as I returned to the Hallmark shop, my last stop. I scanned the carpet along the aisles. Nothing.
But across from the cash register where I had waited in line to pay, an itty-bitty diamond flashed at me from underneath a display of holiday mugs. I was rooted to the spot, thunderstruck. I swooped down and grabbed it tightly. In the mall management office, the woman who had recorded its loss and my information was as stunned as I was.
I was awed and grateful for this second unexpected reunion with my heart pendant but wondered aloud to my family what else it could mean. My niece Ali said, “I would never have gone back into the mall to look. I would have been sure it was gone. But you looked for it and you found it. I think that’s the lesson. Don’t give up, even when the odds seem against you.”
“There’s another lesson,” my husband said. “This Chanukah, I’m buying you a better chain.”
Judy Gruen is an essayist and author whose most recent book is "The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Aish.com, and many other media outlets. She is also a writing coach, editor, and speaker. Judy writes regularly at Judy's Mirth & Meaning Blog.