ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We are a nation of losers.
Not that kind of losers. The kind who lose things. Many things. All. The. Time.
We lose things because we forget – car keys, coats. What is it our mothers used to say? We’d forget our heads if they weren’t attached? She was right.
In the eternal game of Finders Keepers, there are always losers, weepers.
But sometimes what is lost is found again, thanks to the kindness of strangers. That happened to Tamara Shope.
The Albuquerque writer and her husband, Matt, were making the 10-hour drive to Park City, Utah, to visit friends for a much-needed vacation.
Six bleary-eyed hours into the trip on June 21, they stopped at Moab Coffee Roasters in Moab, Utah, for a couple of lattes. Shope remembers heading for the ladies’ room, between the coffee shop and Moab Style, a small clothing store that features apparel from the outdoorsy, optimistic Life is Good label.
She remembers hanging her purse on a hook in the ladies’ room.
And then she forgot it.
“I didn’t realize I left my purse behind until we got to Price – a few hours later – where we decided to stop for dinner,” she said. “I burst into tears when I realized what happened. I felt stupid, of course, but I also had about $150 in cash in my bag, my phone charger and my inhaler. You know, things I’d miss.”
What she missed most, though, were her ID and bank cards, especially one linked to the couple’s adoption fund. Hope for a Little Shope, which you can find online, was launched two years ago in an effort to raise enough money – about $17,000 plus lawyer fees – to adopt a child through a private agency. Years before, the young couple had been rocked with the news that Tamara could not bear children.
But that had not only served to strengthen their marriage but their resolve to be good parents, good people who in the sorrow of what they had lost found grace and purpose.
“We are adopting because this is where God has us. We are adopting because we cannot wait to be called Mom and Dad. We are adopting because there are millions of children who long for Home,” she wrote in her blog. “Our adoption journey is no longer just about us wanting to raise children. It is much larger than that. It is a humbling act of love, rooted in the truth about the grace we have been given. It is a testimony. It’s our story.”
Shope didn’t usually carry that bank card in her purse, but a few days before the trip she had deposited the funds raised from a yard sale held the previous weekend, she said.
And now it seemed the money and the dream were lost.
“I thought it was all gone forever,” she said. “After all, my mom lost her purse at the grocery store and it was stolen within five minutes of her noticing it was missing.”
The Shopes contacted places they had stopped along the way in search of the lost purse. That’s when they found Megan, the Saint of Moab.
She is Megan Hudson, an endlessly cheery 38-year-old woman who works at Moab Style and the one who retrieved the lost purse and kept it safe in the hopes its owner would call.
After learning that the purse belonged to Shope, Hudson insisted that she didn’t want the couple to have to make the eight-hour round trip from Park City to retrieve it, Shope said. Mailing the purse would take too long. So Hudson chose to make the extra effort to ship it overnight.
Inside the box, she included a sticker. “Feel the Love. Life Is Good,” it read.
Well, it sure seemed that way.
“Megan didn’t know about the adoption money,” Shope said. “She didn’t know about how Matt had been so overwhelmed at work and how we really needed this little break. That’s what made this more miraculous.”
A simple task, maybe. But these days, sometimes even simple is hard to come by.
“That’s crazy to me,” Hudson said with a laugh on the phone after hearing the Shopes’ nickname for her. “I did what I would hope anybody would do in the same situation.”
It just felt good, she said, to do something good. And maybe that’s because Hudson knows what it feels like to lose things. Many things.
She lost her sister to illness in April; she had already lost a brother to cancer before that. A 16-year marriage ended, a business failed, a house was put on the market.
Her mother, who had been her business partner, passed away last year, the same year her daughter was diagnosed with lupus.
“It’s been a rough time,” she said in a gracious voice that shows little trace of how hard it’s really been. “But you know, sometimes the universe just tests you like that, right?”
Last year, the owner of Moab Style, a friend of Hudson’s, suggested she come work for her.
“She thought I needed a reset of my life,” she said. “Boy, did I.”
And so, life went on because Hudson found a new one.
Shope said the Saint of Moab refused a reward for returning the purse but asked that she do one thing: Pay it forward. Keep the kindness going. Show the universe we are learning, always learning, that what is lost can be found, that life – for the most part – is good.
It’s a lesson neither is likely to forget soon.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to ABQjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.