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A Couple’s Love, Lost and Recovered

The old photo album I’d found in a gutter mattered to someone. More than I could possibly know…

Lost Love: Found Album

It was them. I was sure. I caught my breath.

My husband and I were out to dinner, and when I looked up from my menu I saw them, intensely familiar and yet different. They were older now, the strain of years showing, but those faces had burned themselves into my memory. “That’s them,” I said. “The happy couple.”

My husband looked at me, nonplussed. For about half a year I’d stared at pieces of this couple’s life, photos in an old album. We’d found it in the gutter on a street by our house. A handsome young man at his high school graduation. A dark-haired, exotic beauty winking at the camera. Their backyard wedding. Babies growing into toddlers, playing with grandparents. It was the story of a happy family. No one could have meant to throw away these precious moments.

If only I could find these people, I thought. And yet where to start? I had no idea. So I kept the album, thumbed through it from time to time, wondering.

Now, improbably, here they were. There was something so different about them, though. As if they were strangers to each other. They picked at their food. I couldn’t contain myself. I shot up from my seat and approached them. “I have something that belongs to you,” I said.

Immediately, I felt like I was intruding. Yes, they said, they’d lost the album, among other items looted from a storage locker. Storage locker? Maybe these photos hadn’t been missed. I jotted down my address, unsure if they even wanted the album returned.

The next day, the man showed up at our house. “We were caught off guard,” he explained apologetically. Then he took the album from me and flipped through it, smiling wistfully.

“You see, this was back when I was sober. Before my drug addiction destroyed our marriage. I’m getting my life together, and hoped my wife and I could be a family again. If we could remember what connected us. That dinner last night was the first step,” he said.

He held the album to his chest. “Then you ran up, offering us this.”

Maybe, I hoped, because it was meant to be the next step.

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