On the way home, I stewed about it. The boys told me "it is solvable, don't worry, it's not personal," etc. I know all of that. It was shocking, though, to know how much it felt like a desecration, to me. Like the desecration of a grave.
Katie wanted to be cremated, because she said she wanted to have her ashes scattered at camp and on the beach. We chose not to have a marker in a graveyard-type of place for her, because we felt that people (including us) wouldn't be as likely to go and sit and think about her, and enjoy the experience. I think she would be proud of her beautiful bench, which is situated in a popular gathering place, facing the Olympic Mountains, the sunset, the bay and the marina where we spent so many happy hours as a family.
When we got home, I received a call from the man in charge of the project. He told me that someone had found the plaque, separate from the bench, and brought it to him. It is in perfect condition. What a relief! He didn't how it had become detached, as the plaques are well-adhered to the benches. We discussed that it could have been temperature-related (it's been down in the 30s at night, and up in the 60s during the day), or it could have been vandalism. I explained how I feel about the bench: it is a memorial for Katie; it honors her. He understood how important this is to me, and said he will be replacing the plaque this morning.
I thanked him for calling me on his own time. Then his lovely employee called me, just to see how I was doing. She told me several times how sorry she was that this had happened. Isn't that sweet? I thanked her (and told her boss how kind and helpful she was).
I am so happy that the plaque was found, returned, and that it will be back in its right place today. (I also wonder if we need to have the plaque bolted onto the bench, but we will see how this solution goes, for now.)
Funny how such a small thing can come to symbolize and mean so very much.