Four years ago, Esther Smith lost her husband of 30 years to cancer, a loss she’s been able to put into perspective with the help of friends and family.
“Everyone has losses, and I’m no different,” Smith said. “After Rocky died, I talked to so many people who’d gone through loss. It doesn’t minimize what you go through, but maybe it helps a little.”
In the past year, she’s begun seeing a gentleman friend — a man who knew and liked her husband — taking things slowly, with the approval of two grown children.
And then last weekend, at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, of all places, Smith relived her devastation.
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She lost a pendant — a golden heart with a heart-shaped diamond inside that used to be set in her wedding ring.
It wasn’t just a piece of jewelry to the Auburn woman, who works as a dental assistant in Tacoma. It was, perhaps, her strongest viable connection to her late husband.
“I don’t usually wear it, but two weeks ago my daughter got married,” Smith said. “I put it on and just hadn’t taken it off.”
As a gift, she received seats in the sixth-hole gallery on Saturday. The weather was perfect, the golf exciting, the fans all around her totally into the event.
“At one point, I went for sunscreen,” Smith said. “I walked to the pavilion, bought it and came back to my seat. When I sat down, I realized the pendant was gone. It had come off my necklace.”
Smith said she was wearing her necklace with the pendant, a U.S. Open pass and a water bottle around her neck when she’d taken that walk. Somewhere along the way, the pendant fell.
“The officials at the event could not have been kinder,” Smith said. “I asked if they’d have someone look under the gallery stands, and they did. It wasn’t there. The other fans were sympathetic.”
The rest of her day was a heavy-hearted blur.
“I went to the Chambers Bay lost and found, and I’ve called them three times a day since,” she said. “I’ve emailed the USGA. So far, no luck.”
There’s an ad now on Craigslist, and Smith may run others in golfing publications, hoping that someone who attended the event found the pendant.
“I’m hoping someone with character finds it and is willing to give it back to me,” Smith said.
It’s a long shot that it will be found amid the sand and grass of the course and that whoever found it took the time to turn it in.
If it is returned, however, it will be emotional treasure found.
“We were dating in 1980, the year before we came to the Northwest,” Smith said. “I was 19 years old, and we went to a jewelry store in Southern California. Rocky picked out this pendant. It was the day he told me his heart was mine.”
Nearly 30 years and two children later, Rocky was diagnosed with liver cancer. For 20 months, he fought the disease with his wife rarely leaving his side.
When he died, she had the center stone from her wedding ring, a half-carat diamond, set inside the golden-heart pendant.
When she lost it late Saturday morning, she sat in that sixth-hole gallery as long as she could, then left. It felt like leaving part of Rocky behind.
“The further I got from Chambers Bay, then the tears came,” Smith said.
She knows about loss and isn’t about to put the missing pendant above those others suffer. It is, she knows, a pendant, not a person.
Still, she’s hurting.
There will be a reward for the person who finds and returns it, Smith said. She can be contacted via email at email@example.com or on her cellphone, 253-797-0870.