The Ring

Posted by Danny

Lisa and I had a beautiful wedding in November of 1993.  When I asked her father for her hand in marriage, which all good southern boys do before becoming engaged, he said to me, “Son, you don’t know what a burden you’re taking off of me.  Her sister is going to be harder to place!”  He scared the hell out of me.

 Her mother planned the perfect reception with every detail covered.  In fact, rumor has it that she had the chef make up a pot of the tortellini we were serving several weeks before the wedding day.  She didn’t want to taste it.  She was concerned it would be difficult to fork and might slide off the plate.  So she went over and tested it.  Can you imagine flying tortellini at your reception?

I’m not sure if that story is true, but it makes for good fodder.

My father was the minister at our wedding.  When he asked for the rings, Lisa dropped mine.  It went rolling and I had to get on my knees to find it.  I have seldom taken it off since that day 17 years ago.

I’ve pondered off and on this year about my ring.  It is so deeply representative of my bond with Lisa.  She is gone, but I  still have that symbol of the love we shared.

I know widowers who took their ring of right after their wife died.  For them, it was too difficult to see that reminder every hour of every day.  For me, it has been comforting.  I think it has also kept me from admitting that my wife is gone.  It is emotional armor.  When it’s on, I’m still married.

Three weeks ago tonight I was in bed and it was a bit stuffy in the house.  I started fidgeting with my ring, not ever an unusual occurence, and I slipped it off.  At first, it was the typical break I’d given my fingers thousands of times before.  This time, it seemed different.

She’s been gone for more than a year I thought to myself.  At some point, the ring must come off. 

There was no rush.  There was no specific reason for it to be removed for good on that night.  But for some reason, I didn’t put it back on.  Instead, I put it on a chain I wear around my neck with other Lisa remembrances.  It’s closer to my heart – a safe place for now.

The next week I felt like I was walking around without my pants on.  I felt naked without it.

I’ve searched for an instruction book that will tell me exactly what I’m supposed to do to rebuild my life.  I’m the kind of person who would like a manual with dates, tasks to accomplish and a clear end to completing my grief.  Although there is a lot of writing, I’ve yet to find this book.

What I do know is that every person deals with grief in a different way and on a different timeline.  I’m in a support group for dads who have lost their wives to cancer and still have children in the house.  Sounds like a real upper, huh? 

It’s actually comforting to sit with a group of guys who are struggling with the same things I am.  It’s nice to know that when you spray your dead wife’s perfume on your pillow or hug her clothes in the closet that you’re not alone.  Most of the crazy stuff I’ve shared with this group has been done by one of my comrades in grief.

So we’ll move forward.  Each at a different pace.  And maybe I’ll leave my ring around my neck.  And maybe I won’t.  It’s not in the manual.

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7 Comments

  1. Steve Gill

     /  March 30, 2011

    Sounds like an exact opposite to Frodo and “The Ring” he carried around his neck. It’s a symbol for all that you cared for the one who completed you! Where 2 become 1. Great post and I know that you are doing great in your life walk. God is with you. And the spirit of Lisa will live in your heart forever.

    Reply
  2. Mary

     /  March 30, 2011

    I searched for that manual too, and I still haven’t found it. Maybe that’s because an individual’s experience of grief is his or her own experience of grief. Sure, there are common elements among the grief experience, but your grief around Lisa’s death is your own–and different from your daughters’ grief and Uncle Jesse’s grief.
    And so, when it comes to things like taking off your ring, you have to do it when it feels right for YOU to do it.
    Because there is no manual.
    Or if there is, it’s hidden with the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.

    Reply
  3. Patty Thomson

     /  March 30, 2011

    I think that you are writing the guide book!! The honesty of your feelings, the questions you pose and some of the answers you give help others know that there is not one way to grieve. It seems to me that we have expected men to “man up” when it comes to grief, but it is alright for a woman to cry and show their feelings. I think that it is now time for us to put the cave man attitude to rest and know that a REAL MAN

    Reply
  4. Patty Thomson

     /  March 30, 2011

    I think that you are writing the guide book!! The honesty of your feelings, the questions you pose and some of the answers you give help others know that there is not one way to grieve. It seems to me that we have expected men to “man up” when it comes to grief, but it is alright for a woman to cry and show their feelings. I think that it is now time for us to put the cave man attitude to rest and know that a REAL MAN has feelings, doubts and insecurities just like a woman does. Thank you Bruce for putting yourself on public display so that others can heal right along with you. Your girls will probably look for a man like you when they choose a mate. That is good. I have always loved you, and the more I read, the more I admire the man you have become!!!

    Reply
  5. Patti

     /  March 30, 2011

    Thanks for this. I have a friend who lost his wife of 30 years, my friend, 20 days after finding out she had liver cancer. I can’t imagine him ever removing his ring. It’s hard to know how to comfort and counsel him. He’s an elder in our church – one who would counsel others about God’s sovereignty and the true source of our joy in life. And he is strugglig mightily. It’s hard to know how to help.

    Reply
    • Danny Tanner

       /  March 30, 2011

      I’d love to talk to him. It is proof that we all attack this differently.

      Reply
  6. Jean

     /  March 30, 2011

    I agree with Patty. You ARE writing the manual.

    Reply

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