roller coasterEvery September, my husband’s company rents out a local amusement park for the weekend. As our children are too short for most of the rides, it isn’t worth the high price of admission to go any other time of the year. They look forward to this day almost as heartily as they anticipate Christmas and trick-or-treat.

This September, our neighbor (who works at the same company) and her kids decided to join forces with us. Both families have odd numbers of people but well-matched pairs. It was ingenious, really.

We woke early and worked hard to pack lunches. The neighbors arrived with their car and cooler, and we began to load our van.

Hats? Check.

Sunscreen? Check.

Wagon? Check.

Backpack and bags for goodies? Check.

Tickets? Ummm.

I went to the bulletin board, where I had posted them. Not there. I figured I set them out while packing. Flipped through the pile of mail and school papers on the counter, checked the van console, inspected the bags, dug through the pockets in the van doors.

A knot tightened in my gut as panic grew.

No, no, no no no no NOOOOOO. I didn’t throw them out in a paper purge. Please no.

My  husband joined the search. I found every pile of paper in the house. We retrieved the paper recycling and the trash. We moved furniture. For two hours, we turned everything in the house upside-down.

After the first hour of searching, we began calling everyone we knew who worked at the company, looking for tickets. Our neighbor had two extra tickets, so we only needed three. Only.

I was sick, alternating between fury at myself and tears at the disappointment I had brought upon the entire family. I must have thrown them out accidentally. Yet another stellar moment for Joy.

To their credit, the kids handled it surprisingly well. We never found our tickets, but a friend of our neighbor’s came through with two tickets late that  night. The next afternoon, we took our youngest to play with some friends and took the older two to ride the rides.

Fast-forward to today.

With just 50 minutes to shop, I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and for once, thought to bring in my reusable shopping bags. Shivering, fingers almost numb from unseasonable cold, I hurriedly pulled them out of the back seat.

What was this? A white envelope? From my husband’s company? I thought I was hallucinating from the cold for a second.

lost tickets

There, with my husband’s name on them clear as day, were the tickets to the park.