I noticed it as soon as I walked in the room: there was no blue elephant on the bed. Trying to be rational, I asked my husband if he had put Ella somewhere--perhaps back in the suitcase or in the closet--but he hadn't. So I made a quick walk around the room to see if she was on the floor somewhere.
She was gone.
I knew right away what must have happened. The maid's must not have noticed her this time and gathered her with the sheets. So I tried to stay calm and have my husband call housekeeping to find out where the sheets went after that. But it was not good news. Apparently they send their laundry to an off site facility where it is washed, folded and shipped back. When he explained that something important was wrapped up in those sheets and asked if they had some place where things like that would be sorted the answer was simply "no." Which meant Ella was gone forever.
I'd like to say I took the news with dignity and grace. But the truth was...I lost it. In my defense, at that time my doctor had me taking hormones, which made made my mood a lot more unstable. But I couldn't believe she was gone--just like that--and in such an unexpected way. In all the years I'd had her, I'd never considered anything like that happening. Sure, I knew she may eventually wear out, and of course if there were a flood or a fire I knew she'd be destroyed. But to have her whisked away from me so suddenly--from such a silly mistake...it was more than I was prepared to handle.
My poor husband--it's a really good thing he loves me. He didn't know what to do--and I don't blame him. His wife was curled up in a little ball on the bed crying (I can honestly remember wailing, "Now I'll never sleep again") and begging him to call the front desk and get the address for the laundry facility so we could drive there and try to sort through the sheets and find her (no really...I seriously wanted to do that). He tried to calm me down--telling me we'll scour ebay for another one and promising it'll be okay...but I was inconsolable. So he could do nothing but rub my back and hope I would eventually calm down.
At some point we heard the maids in the hallway and I begged him to go talk to them and see if there was any chance they might still be able to find her. But they could only confirm what the front desk had already told us. Ella was gone. I needed to accept it. But that was easier said than done.
I was still crying a few minutes later when there was a knock on the door. I figured it was hotel security coming to complain about my loud sobbing so I didn't really pay much attention when my husband answered. So you can imagine my absolute shock when he came back over to the bed after a minute and handed me a familiar bright blue elephant.
To this day I don't know where she was. I can only assume the sheets must not have been collected and the maids--bless their hearts--had decided to check and found her. It doesn't matter. What mattered was I had her back.
I learned three very important things that day. One: I was even more attached to that silly blue elephant than I realized. Two: I really needed to get off those stupid hormones and get ahold of myself. And, most importantly, three: I was never leaving Ella unprotected in a hotel room again. From now on Ella lives in the safe when we're not there, and I don't care if you think that's ridiculous. The safe is where you're supposed to keep your valuables, right? Well...what could be more valuable than Ella?