Even before the buzzer ended the third losing game, Julia Bakker-Arkema ’14 was sobbing on the court. While her parents assured her it was only a game, Julia insisted that no, it wasn’t. At Volleyball practice on Monday, Julia’s coach had asked her to remove the ring that she never removed. It was the ring that Julia’s grandparents had given it to her on her sixteenth birthday, and she hadn’t taken it off since. Reluctantly, she obliged to her coach’s request and placed the ring on her clipboard. It was Wednesday now, and two days had passed since she realized that it was gone.
That evening, Julia and her parents returned to the school gym to find the ring. They called the janitor to unlock the doors, then searched on their hands and feet behind the bleachers. As they looked and looked, Julia felt guiltier and guiltier. In her head, she could see the ring perched inside an unreachable vent. “Alright, we need to go home,” her mother said, temporarily calling off the search.
For the rest of the week, Julia couldn’t focus, couldn’t eat, couldn’t do anything other than think about her loss. She put up posters in school advertising a $100 reward for the person who found the ring. Later, her mother would reveal she had considered assuaging her daughter’s depression by replicating the ring, and claiming it had been found. Soothingly, her mother reminded Julia that the memories of her grandparents were more important than a physical object. Julia remained unconvinced.
They resolved to make one last trip to the gym. There was a school dance that night, so this was the last possible chance that it might be found. Since construction trucks were blocking the immediate entrances, they parked a block away and began to walk toward the school. It was raining, of course, the afternoon gloom appropriately mirroring Julia’s grief. As they approached the entrance, the manager of the Volleyball team approached them and interrogated Julia about her evening plans – “are you going to the dance?” she asked, but Julia wasn’t listening.
In the construction laden mud below her feet, Julia had spotted a subtle golden glint. While her mother conversed with the manager, Julia reached down, picked up her ring, and placed it on her finger.
Julia still wonders what would have happened if there hadn’t been the construction, if the manager hadn’t approached them, if they hadn’t gone back for a final time. But there was the construction, and the manager was there, and they did go back for one last time. Julia had found her ring. And that was that.