You never know how much something means to you until it’s gone.

I turned 21 not too many years ago. I happened to be running a school camp, possibly not the most ideal location for turning the big 2-1, but I was with all my friends and Greg, which was what counted. As a side-note, I also turned 21 wearing braces – true story. Anyway, I digress.

I got from Greg the most beautiful charm bracelet. I always had a thing for charm bracelets. I even had a charm styled watch until I lost it. He wrote me a beautiful letter to go with it, explaining why he had chosen each of the charms – a heart, a dolphin, a strawberry, a “chai” (it’s a Jewish symbol meaning “life”, I think) and an oval charm with our initials “LL & GG” engraved on one side, and my 21st birthday date on the other, with a heart cutout. I don’t actually have a picture of it, as it was before the time of smartphones, instagram and over-sharing our lives. But it was beautiful.

Now I’m not a girly-girl. I don’t wear or accessorize with jewellery. I’m the type who has certain (sometimes meaningful) pieces they just stay put, and I don’t take off. These include: the aforementioned bracelet, my engagement and wedding rings, and a necklace which has my name in Hebrew. Even the bracelet Greg bought me for our 1 year anniversary I don’t wear every day – I have the tendency to take it off while I work, and I’m just too scared of losing it.

We went out to friends on Friday night for dinner, it was great and so was the company, as usual. I was getting changed before going to bed – and my right wrist was bare. My bracelet was gone. My right wrist is never bare.┬áMy heart broke. Literally it felt like it was cracked in two, and I moped myself to sleep. Poor Greg had to deal with a very sad Lee-Ann.

I’m happy to say that this story has a happy ending. It turned out that the clasp had come undone at dinner. My friend found it on the floor under the table and gave it back to me at shul the next morning. I literally almost cried from happiness when she gave it back to me. The sigh of relief, the weight lifted off my shoulders. I was about to ask Greg whether he could replicate it for my birthday coming up. Goodness was this girl happy. We’re going to get the clasp fixed/replaced hopefully this week.

I’m not the most sentimental person. I don’t think I’d ever thought how I’d feel if I’d lost this little piece of metal. When people ask what you would run back in to salvage if your house were burning down, I always thought it would be my harddrive. I mean, aside for the series etc there are just so many pictures. Dating back to 2005. Pictures from holidays, from school, from my gap year, all our years of dating, our wedding… Greg’s harddrive crashed recently. He lost over 100G of magic DVDs (the guy’s a magician, this is a big, big deal). He was so heartbroken. When we realised it would cost about R8k to recover the data and buy a new one, we gave up. I don’t know if the giving up helped him get over it, or if he realised he could get a lot of it from friends.

Memories are the things you can’t replace. I guess if I lost my harddrive with all my photos, I’d be heartbroken too. I’m trying to make photobooks every year (our “2012” book is still 95% finished, as it’s been from about February), who knows, maybe that could replace the fear. Or maybe I should kick it old school, and back stuff onto DVDs.

So I know that in the grand scheme of things – this may have been only a bracelet. It really means a lot to me, and goes beyond the memories of the day. I mean, what is turning 21 anyway in South Africa. I am already legal to drink, as well as drive a car. It doesn’t mean anything but it was a really special present. If I had lost it, who knows, maybe I would have gotten over my sadness, and Greg probably would have replicated it as best as he could for y birthday next month.

But I’m so glad he doesn’t have to.