What's the most important thing you ever lost?

I thought about that question this week when I lost my cell phone. For 10 days, I went crazy searching every corner of our home.

Being without a cell phone makes me feel vulnerable. Leaving home without my cell phone is almost akin to going nude – I am completely aware something essential is missing.

How did we ever manage without cell phones?

One thing is certain: I feel safer driving with my cell phone handy in case of emergency. I especially feel that way when it comes to biking.

There are so many accidents that can happen on a bike. I often find myself riding alone on quiet out of the way roads. If something happened, I want to know I at least have a cell phone to call for help.

But for 10 days, I had no phone. My friend Kay finally got tired of watching my frantic search so she came to help me. We did a systematic search of the car and every room in the house. Nothing.

When I lose something important, I call on others to help, too. I pray to St. Anthony (the prayer works wonders) and to St. Theresa the Little Flower. It's a short prayer:

Little flower

In this hour

Show your power.

It's amazing what happens when I pray those prayers.

This time was no exception. I finally found the phone buried in a different handbag I don't remember using.

If I would not have found the phone, it would only have cost me money. There are sentimental things I have lost that no amount of money could replace.

When I was still single and dating Andy, he gave me his Mount St. Mary's College class ring to wear. As was the custom then, I wrapped it with Scotch tape so it would fit.

But it flew off one night in a debris-ridden lot as I walked home from an assignment. I was crawling around in the dark on my hands and knees, going over every inch of ground. After a few hours, with help from a friend, I found it.

After Andy and I married, my wedding ring became my most treasured possession. I never took it off. But sometimes, when my hands were wet, it slipped off.

Once, it slipped off while I was doing housework. My husband and I tore the house apart but couldn't find it. He even took the drains apart, thinking it might have fallen down the drain when I was cleaning the sinks.

Finally, when we took the garbage apart piece by piece, we found it. It had fallen off when I emptied the bathroom wastebasket.

That taught me a lesson. I had a ring guard made so it would never happen again.

With the passing years, the ring grew tighter (I blame it on the ring changing size, not on my changing size.) On occasion, I would develop a rash from the tight ring. When that happened, I would take it off before I went to sleep, carefully putting it on my nightstand.

One morning the ring wasn't there. No way could it get lost, I told myself. We resorted to pulling the carpet up but still couldn't find it.

Losing that ring was devastating. It was way worse than the time I cashed my paycheck at the bank, put it in an envelope, and then stopped at the drugstore on the way home. When I went to pay for my cough drops, I discovered the envelope was gone. I was a bit hysterical as I ran around the store trying to find it. I never did and it was a long, long two weeks before my next payday.

My father used to say, "It's only money. In the scope of things, a money problem isn't a big problem. There are more important things."

Yes, like a wedding ring, the symbol of your most precious relationship. I never got over losing my wedding ring.

The next year for Christmas my husband surprised me with a new ring. It looked almost like the one we had custom made for me. Almost. Nothing replaces your original ring.

Once, a friend of mine lost her engagement ring after 30 years of marriage. The diamond in the old engagement ring was so tiny it was barely there. Her husband replaced the lost ring with a big, gorgeous diamond. Later, in private, she told me no big diamond could mean more to her than her old ring.

Certain sentimental things are irreplaceable.

A cell phone doesn't come close.