Lost. And Not (yet) Found.

I know he’s in this picture. I took it. I was there. I’ve seen him.

But no matter how much I scroll down, he doesn’t show up. The page just cuts him off. He is nowhere to be found, even though I know he’s just. right. there. Right below the surface. Beyond my grasp. Out of my reach.

It’s been a week since Abe’s lifelong buddy, Nanas, went missing. I know he’s just an inanimate object. Some folks call these things a “lovie” or “security blanket”. But Abe? He just calls him his “friend”. And that’s all that matters.

I’ve called the church we took him to last week. The restaurant we had lunch at. Walked the neighborhood where we visted our friends, Matt and Lauren. The restaurant where we had dinner. The convenient store. The playground. The garage. The boxes shoved in every corner and crevice of our new home.

And every time…

Nothing.

Like a high school boy asking out a girl way out of his league, and being rejected over and over and over. I just step right up to the plate and go for it all over again. But each time…

Nothing.

But then something happens: new life! A reason to pursue once again!

My heart beats a little quicker. Set free once again with hope. And I open the bag I’d forgotten about til now. And I fully expect to see that ruffled, tussled, muffled monkey head goofy-staring right back at me. Only. Instead. Just.

Nothing.

And that, in all of its agony, leads me to this:

The search for what is lost may just be more about me finding what I’m missing than about me finding what my boy is missing.

Abe’s asked about Nanas several times. Even cried for him in moments of weakness. But he hasn’t been consumed with the loss. He’s still taking one step in front of the other. Carefree. Full of life. But me? There’s an aching I know all too well.

The night before I knew my Dad was gone, I must have called his house twenty five times. Something deep in me knew he wasn’t going to answer. But something even deeper moved me to the phone. To dial the number. To let it ring. And ring. And ring. And to hear the voicemail once again. And again. And again.

I believed, even in the face of near certainty of loss, that finding was possible. Hope prevailed. Even as death knocked at the door. Which makes me wonder:

Here on this earth, how are we supposed to handle hope? When are we supposed to throw in the towel and stop the search? Is there a good time to just let go? And if so, does hope have to die? Or is it possible to let your heart be free enough to beat quicker at a moments notice, even as you go on with the steady stride of what today holds?

You see, we know he could just show up. God. Nanas. Heck, even my dad. He does so in my dreams every now and then. And it’s so real and so powerful that I wake up filled with the comfort of just being in my father’s presence. And while I long for that resurrection, while I do ache, even hurt for the return, I’m tempted to stop the bleeding, cover up the wound, and move on.

But I’m not going to. That’s not how we were made. That’s not how I was made. Even in the face of near certainty of loss, I will choose to believe that finding. is. possible. Hope will prevail. And so…

Abe, Dad’s gonna keep on looking.

Nanas, I may be older and grayer one day, finding myself a nice suit at Goodwill for Abe’s wedding, and I’ll still stroll over to the kids section to see if someone’s dropped you off. You are not lost. You’re just not found. Yet.

God, whenever you choose to come back, I’ll be ready because I’ll have been looking for you every step of every day. With a heart full of hope, I’ll race to meet you. Goofy-smiling all the way to your great, big arms.

And Dad, every Beatles song, every baseball game, every open sea, I’ll still be looking for that devilish grin. Those piercing eyes. And that voice. The one that’ll pick up the phone. And say to me,

“Son, you found me.”

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