Years ago, shortly after I moved to New Hampshire the first time, I bought a Hedgren backpack on sale. It wasn't a very comfortable backpack, but it was big and might turn out to be useful, so I kept it anyway. After T. was born, the backpack became the outings bag for T. D. used it. O. used it. B. used it. The two J.'s used it. And B. used it. Also, R. and I used it. It was a piece of stability in a short life that otherwise had a lot more changes than consistency in it.
And one day, last spring, it disappeared. We didn't notice it missing right away, or maybe we did. In any event, we couldn't figure out who might have lost it, or where it might have been left behind. It wasn't a tragedy -- there wasn't anything in it of any particular value. But it demoralized me. We'd managed to keep all the pieces of virtually every toy, hand me down or bought new (with the exception of the refrigerator magnet food alphabet toy, but that I was okay with), and everything else associated with having a baby. We kept both members of a pair of yellow baby booties R. bought impulsively (through both children, I might add, and we did use them, more than once). For the grey backpack to go missing, and for it not to reappear somewhere for months, well, that shook me.
Eventually, I became reconciled to the idea that I wasn't ever going to see it again, and set up a new outings bag for T., mostly containing art supplies this time, along with a few diapers and very little else. I used a black Jansport I'd picked up at Costco, which was comfortable, but wasn't currently in use for anything in particular.
Today, T. decided to go to Julie's Place for a belgian waffle, which we usually do in the evenings. This was not a great idea. Julie's Place is slammed on weekends, especially Sundays, and it was damn close to when he needed to leave for his horseback riding lesson. But R. was napping with A. and I wasn't interested in a noisy fight, so off we went. We got seated quickly, but the waffle was slow. R. called the people at the horse to let them know we were running late and got the car all ready to go. The lessons after T. were canceled due to rain (it was just starting as his was wrapping up), so he even got a full lesson. But most bizarre of all, they were cleaning out the bathroom at the stable (which doubles as storage), and found the grey backpack. They came out and asked if it might be ours. R. must have left it months ago during the chaos of a diaper change, and then it got lost under a table.
It was a little damp, covered with dust from wood chips and smelled a little like horse. But it's back, including the clothing, juice box and rubbermaid plastic container of goldfish crackers that were in it (also a spider man action figure and a bunch of plastic bags). I got out the vacuum cleaner and gave it a thorough going over; once it dries, we're hoping it'll be A-OK once again. Even if it isn't, at least I know what happened to it.