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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