There’s this tool used in golf called a divot tool. You carry it in your pocket. When your ball lands on the green, it will often leave an indentation called a ball mark in the carefully groomed grass of the green. It’s good golf etiquette to find and fix your ball mark as soon as you reach the green.
My ball hardly ever lands on the green so I don’t fix many divots. But the first thing I put in my pocket when I go golfing is a well-used, scuffed, burnished divot tool. You see, it belonged to my late husband, Dan Potts, and he loved that thing (and he used it—a lot!) I love that thing too, because it was his, and even though it sits awkwardly in the pockets of my stretchy, athletic-style brightly-colored golf skirts (i.e. not exactly flattering to my hips) I carry it throughout each and every round.
So, we golfed just this past Sunday, it was mid-80s, sunny, gorgeous. We played Port Ludlow Golf Course with two awesome friends, and it felt like we had the course to ourselves. Truly a day to appreciate being alive. And then . . . I lost Dan’s divot tool. Just like that, it was gone.
Dan practically grew up in Port Ludlow. His parents built a cabin there that they visited nearly every summer weekend. He regaled me with endless stories of those times, and one day he decided we would take the ferry over and golf at Port Ludlow Golf Course (his parents had sold the cabin years earlier.) That first time, and the several times thereafter that we golfed the course together, were just about perfect. Once we went with his son and once with his daughter, which made him even happier. Strangely, every time we golfed there the weather was warm and sunny. He loved that course and he loved that area!
And then, on that same course, his divot tool disappeared from my pocket.
When you lose someone you love, you try to find ways to hang on to them. Usually that takes the form of cherishing things that represent them; that they gave you or that belonged to them. But I have come to realize that everything we hold dear comes and goes. I couldn’t hang on to Dan himself and I can’t hang on to every single thing in the world that reminds me of him, time and life simply won’t allow that. He himself wouldn’t want me to!
Yet when I realized my pocket was empty, I was devastated. But even as I told everyone that I was fine (impossible to hide the on-again off-again tears for the rest of the day) I knew in my gut that I really was. Yes, it was another loss I needed to process, but in the bigger picture it was just another reminder in a long line of painful reminders that things don’t mean as much as we think they do. The things we hold so dear, no matter what the sentimental value we place on them, are really just that—things.
If I lost that divot tool, it’s because it was meant to be. If someone picked it up, they are lucky to have a little piece of Dan, even if they don’t know it. And so, yes, I really am fine.
But I wonder . . . is it a coincidence that Dan’s treasured divot tool left my pocket on the course he enjoyed so much, so near the place that played such a tremendous part in shaping him to become the strong, loving, wise man that I knew?
Previously published on My Edmonds News