The Ring

The RingThat diamond ring burned a whole in his pocket for over a year. He waited patiently to ask me, but I always told him no, not yet. I wasn’t ready to accept it.

But then one autumn evening in upstate New York, as we stood on the steps of Hendricks Chapel watching the maple leaves fall, he fell to one knee and finally proposed.

What was I supposed to say? I thought I loved him. But I was young and wounded and wondering what it meant to love someone forever. “Till death do us part” was muddled now that my parents were filing for divorce. The only vow I felt like making was never to give my heart to anyone.

But I said yes anyway, despite my fears and reservations, and I played the role of a happily engaged fiancé and, later, a happily married wife, until several years after the wedding, when my act, along with my marriage, fell apart.

I slipped my ring off that day, the day I met someone for lunch, and I made some lame excuse, something about forgetting to put it back on after my morning run. But I lied; I meant to take it off.

Until then, I never made a habit of removing it – only when I swam laps or made meatloaf or lathered my hands in lotion – but now a new reason presented itself, an overwhelming temptation, and I was too lost and lonely to resist.

We had to re-size the ring later that year, the year we spent every Tuesday night on our marriage counselor’s couch, because it no longer fit my finger. I’d lost too much weight. So we drove to his parents’ house in Wisconsin and visited the jeweler who designed it a dozen years earlier. He re-sized the one-of-a-kind ring for free, happy to serve his loyal customers, and I wished I’d been as faithful to his craftsmanship.

But the ring fit again, the marquise-cut diamond never more brilliant, and I had no intention of taking it off, not even for meatballs.

Last week, though, my ring vanished, and I don’t know how, when, or where it disappeared. I just looked at my hand one morning, and it was gone.

I’ve ransacked the house looking for it, digging through garbage disposals, re-sorting sock drawers, moving heavy appliances to look underneath. But I’ve come up empty-handed, literally, every time.

“Why aren’t you freaking out?” my daughter asked me one morning as I calmly continued my search in the front yard.

“Well, sweetheart,” I said, hunched over the lawn, raking leaves with my bare hands, “what good would it do for me to freak out?”

She thought for a moment. Finally she shrugged and said, “None, I suppose.” And I agreed, reaffirming to her and me that “freaking out” won’t help me find my ring.

But as the days drift past and my hope dwindles, a sad resignation threatens to take over. What if I never see my ring again? What if it’s gone forever? Even the woman who filed the incident report at the police station today said it made her sick to her stomach.

“Imagine how I feel,” I joked with her, smiling to show I appreciated her sympathy.

But no one – except maybe my husband – can truly understand how it feels to lose this, to lose something so profoundly sentimental, so symbolic of our relationship and the territory we fought so hard to claim.

I retrace my steps again tonight, traveling the countless directions my feet take me in a day, and I think about our sixteenth wedding anniversary, the one we celebrated just the other night over beers and pub pretzels. We talked about tattoos, what we’d ink on ourselves if we ever had the nerve, and he said he’d choose something significant, something about his faith or his family. Then he teased that he’d emblazon it across his hairy chest.

I laughed and told him, quite seriously, that I’d get the word, “Beloved,” tattooed, small and script-y, on the inside of my right wrist.

“Why?” he asked.

“To remind me who I am, and how much I’m loved,” I replied as I dipped my pretzel in the cheese sauce.

His eyes searched for more, so I added, “I know I’d make a million different decisions if I could just remember that.”

“Like marrying me?” he wondered.

“No,” I replied. “Marrying you was the best decision I never wanted to make.”

He winked from across the table and reached for my hand, and we continued to revisit some of the past, some of the stuff we can talk about now without crying or screaming or wanting to throw flatware. And I remember how good it felt to be there with him, how good it felt to finally let myself be loved by this incredible man.

And that’s when I stop in my tracks and stumble upon an unexpected treasure. Not my ring, but this: that maybe my one-of-a-kind wedding ring was never designed for my hand but for my heart, that maybe it’s not about a piece of jewelry but a journey the two of us are on together, this road etched with heartache and healing and wholeness, leading us both to a better place.

And while it’s devastating that my ring is lost, that I may never see it again, I can rejoice that my heart no longer is. My heart has finally found its home with him, and with or without that wedding ring, I am here to stay.

“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” – Matthew 6:21, The Message

 

Comments

  1. This amazing story tells so much with so few words. I am just privileged, as your mother, to read between the lines. I love sweetheart! And again and eternally, thank you and Scott for working so hard to “not put assunder, what God has wroght”. I love and appreciate you both very much!

  2. All I can utter is “Jesus, thank you”. God never wastes our pain.

  3. Meg… I remember watching you and Scott as a young freshman- so jealous of what you guys had and wishing to find that for myself… while i hate that it seems like you guys went through a lot… i love that you pulled together and made it through even stronger. I loved how you guys were together then, and am happy to see that through the pain you found a stronger love and also remain strong in your faith… you are a testimony my friend!! 🙂

    • meg@raineydays.org says:

      Thanks, Lauren, for your kind words. We really did have our good days back then. It just wasn’t all rainbows and cupcakes all the time. And yes, by the grace of God, we are stronger today.

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