You meet certain families, and you know you want to be part of them forever.  I met one ten years ago, and the matriarch gave me their family’s crucifix, that I had worn since. And then one day, I lost it.

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I lost my beloved crucifix a few weeks ago.  It was a huge loss, because 10 years ago, it was given to me by the matriarch of an old family in Tbilisi. You It had been in her family for over 100 years, and I have worn it faithfully since it was bequeathed to me. In fact, it was the only material thing of value that I owned. I almost never ever took it off, through all my sadness and all my joys, it had been with me.

Then a few weeks ago, when I was on crutches because of a kayaking accident, I had to get from A to B, so I took a motorbike taxi. Though I can’t be sure, I was almost certain, my beloved crucifix must have fallen off me then. I went back the next day looking for it, feeling bereft, but it wasn’t there.  I asked everyone in the locality, showing them this photo, but they all shook their heads.

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I widened the search to the other places I visited that day. I put up posters.

But a part of me was dying inside: I the giver, who have been giving crucifixes and a lot of other goodies to strangers, have lost my own. Isn’t life ironic?

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And then this came into my life, from a virtual stranger, who read my post. I don’t know her personally, but she had driven across the island to hand me these: a wooden crucifix (and icons) from Orthodox Christianity plus some religious icons. It has the same provenance as the crucifix I have lost. It also contains small bits of stones and a tiny piece of parchment from a faraway land. I have a feeling it is priceless and much-loved.

From Russia, with love. Thank you, Yulia, I will treasure them until it is their time to leave me. You have given me something infiintely precious, and that is my faith in humanity. From a stranger straight to my soul.