How long have we been waiting for news of the Malaysian aircraft MH370? Seems a lifetime.
OPINION: But that's how long the McCanns have waited for their little Madeleine, still lost.
It is just the word, lost, that is so awful, triggering memories, anxieties, sadness - and also, and we can't help this, the idea that everything is lost, every day.
Like we lose our car keys, our temper, the shopping list, letter to post and someone's bat phone number.
Then the kids lose an Xbox game, the All Blacks lose the test and Steel struggle.
But then we find love, there are batteries in the torch, petrol in the tank, two gloves where there was one, a missing sock reappears and even a bet pays off.
These large scale searches in vast stretches of ocean, as big as Australia, make a root round the kitchen seem small fry.
But as the end of the financial year approaches we will all know the desperate searching that goes on to find receipts and pay slips, cash dockets and donation acknowledgments.
The anxiety triggered by items missing, mislaid - see, anything but lost - is familiar to all, as recognisable as heartache or that slow burning low level worry.
We lose our specs, airline tickets, blood test results, spare pair of tights and the dry cleaning dockets.
We find someone else's wallet, true love, and that the Ranfurly Shield's not lost.
In the big searches they keep looking until the object - this time a plane load of people - is found or until they are convinced it cannot be.
Once I turned out a full vacuum cleaner bag to find a stone knocked from a ring.
That diamond was winking back at me through the dust.
I had of course paved the way with a fervent word to St Jude.
In large-scale hunts many theories are discussed and dismissed, ideas from deliberate sabotage to acceptance of accidental happenings.
Try that line when you're desperately wanting to find something you fear lost.
I like the long ago newspaper advertisements worded to cover all exigencies, headed Lost, Stolen or Strayed - a phrase offering multiple choices and with them, hope.
You can lose everything but not hope.
Hang on to that for tomorrow.
- The Southland Times