Bridget Hughes, a full time volunteer who works with underprivileged preschoolers, lost an old floppy brown hat at the airport last Monday. This might not be a big story if thousands and thousands of people weren’t now working to help her find it. Hughes posted a photo of herself wearing the hat, which had been a favorite of her mother while she was undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. Hughes lost her mother at age seven, but inherited the hat years later and has carried it ever since.
Just a simple hat
Hughes decided to post a photo of herself online wearing the hat after attending church last weekend. A self-proclaimed Christian from Las Cruces, New Mexico, Hughes felt that God was sending her a message to actively search for the lost hat. She told radio reporter, Jim Ferretti from Portland, Oregon, “I had this sense of God telling me, like, you know, everything matters to me, even this lost little hat.”
So the next day, Hughes posted her photo, along with a request that people look out for what she called “a simple knit brown floppy hat from the Gap.” Just a thing of little to no value, but the one thing she had to hold onto that made her feel close to her mother. People were moved.
A request gone viral
Since posting the request for people to be on the lookout for her hat at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Hughes’ photo has gone viral. As of this writing, more than 115,000 people have shared the request, and she has been contacted by reporters from across the country.
More than pink ribbons in October, this little brown hat has moved people to think about a woman lost to breast cancer and the little girl who loved her. It has moved people to care about a daughter who still wants to be close to her mom, even if it is only through the hat she wore so many years ago to keep her head warm as she lost her hair to chemotherapy and her battle with cancer.
Hughes told Ferretti that she doesn’t know what God is doing through her hat, but I think it is clear. Hearts around the world are opening for this simple request of love. According to Hughes’ own post on the airport’s Facebook page, employees there are also doing everything they can to return her hat.
Brown floppy hats for cancer
I think it would be a beautiful thing if a company somewhere would make a huge batch of soft, knit floppy hats, the same chocolate brown color as Hughes, and give them to patients going through chemotherapy. Simple, comforting, practical hats that women could wear to warm their heads and look as cute as Hughes and her mom looked wearing the one from the Gap. Maybe something like that will come of this, or maybe Hughes will just get her hat back and life will go on. But this week, people are caring, and people are thinking, and maybe that was what was meant to be.
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