Cathy Brigham saw a Facebook message Thursday, the kind she usually ignores.
From a stranger.
But she opened it anyway.
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And she was glad she did.
“Cathy, this is a long shot,” the stranger wrote, “but I was thrifting while on vacation in Hilton Head ... ”
Let’s back up: Cathy and husband Chris moved to Hilton Head Island in 2015. Before that, they lived in Hawaii. And while in Hawaii, they often traveled to Maine to visit their children and grandchildren.
And somewhere, sometime during a return flight from Maine five years ago, Cathy lost — or thought she lost — her pendant.
It was a distinctive piece: the mountains of Mokulele Islands were cast on a slice of gold shaped like a diamond and studded with one.
On the back were words arranged to match its shape:
The Brighams — who will celebrate No. 30 in July — were heartbroken. The pendant was an anniversary present, yes, but also a token of their time in Hawaii. And that time, they knew, was almost up: plans were in place to go back to the East Coast to be closer to family.
Fast-forward to Hilton Head where, at some point in 2017, Cathy took some clothes to Goodwill.
And where that year, during a Memorial Day vacation, Bonnie Moody and her mother-in-law were doing a little “thrifting.”
Bonnie bought some clothes at the thrift store.
Took them home to Spartanburg.
And found, in her dryer, a gold pendant.
It must have been tucked away in a pocket, she thought.
On June 6, 2017, she posted a picture of it on Facebook hoping someone would claim it.
She put it in a drawer.
She never wore it.
She eventually forgot about it.
But Bonnie remembered it a couple of weekends ago, the thought triggered by a conversation she and her husband were having — about getting her a piece of jewelry.
She rummaged through the drawer and found the pendant.
She started with the front of the piece, trying to identify the mountains or the jeweler or the design.
Then she turned it over, logged onto Facebook and started searching.
She typed in “Cathy” and “Chris” and “Hilton Head.”
She found people by those names tagged in others’ posts.
She went to their pages and found they’d once lived in Hawaii. She saw pictures of mountains that matched those on pendant. Things started adding up.
She sent Cathy a Facebook message but, for a couple of days, heard nothing.
Then, on Thursday, a response.
Bonnie asked Cathy to describe the jewelry’s key features.
Cathy told her about the mountains, how the piece had come from Windward Jewelers in Kailua — how Chris, for their 24th anniversary, had hired a band and reserved a private patio at a fancy country club with a beautiful view, one they’d enjoyed for a dozen years but would soon leave behind.
“To get it back, it’s just a gift,” Cathy said Friday of the pendant, its sentimental value far exceeding its roughly $3,000 price tag. “A gift from the universe, from this wonderful woman who made the extra effort.”
You ought to be a detective, she told Bonnie.
Bonnie was excited to tell daughter Evie about Cathy’s message — the little girl had become invested in her mother’s sleuthing and wanted to know the pendant’s backstory.
“She got to be part of the process,” Bonnie said of Evie. “But it teaches her that you just have to do the right thing. It wasn’t our necklace to keep. I think it teaches her about honesty, about respecting people’s property.”
And Bonnie — who has a side-gig metal-stamping business — knew the necklace wasn’t a generic piece.
“It was something that someone put their heart into,” she said. “I could tell that it was a special-made piece.”
As of Friday, the pendant was in the mail.
When it arrives, Cathy said she’ll put it on — and she’ll look forward to wearing it on a return trip to Hawaii in the new year.
As for Bonnie, she’s still deciding on a piece of jewelry for herself.
She and husband Eric are thinking about a ring.
One to mark their 15th anniversary.