Thursday, October 10, 2013

With This Ring

Oct. 10, 2013


Dear Paul,


This is the first letter I’ve written to you since you died.  I bet that sounds funny to you – “you died.”  I have a feeling you’d be quick to correct me, assuring me that you have never been more alive…But anyway, remember all those letters we wrote when we were dating?  I cleaned out the shed this summer and ran across them.  I’m saving them, of course.  One of these days they will make it into the house and I’ll put them in the hope chest.  We wrote hundreds and hundreds of letters in those 2 ½ years we were apart.  I remember stalking the mailman nearly every day, waiting and hoping that I’d receive another letter from you!  Once we married, though, I quit writing to you.  But you still wrote to me from time to time.  I’ve saved those letters, too.  It was rare that you even gave me a card without a letter enclosed.  I was doing good to sign my name on yours!  And you wrote me poems and funny  limericks, too.  And people thought I was the writer – if only they knew!


But I’m writing to you today because I want to tell you something important.  I took off my wedding rings today. 


Those rings were so significant.  I remember the first ring you gave me – my promise ring, after we’d been dating 8 months (do young men give promise rings anymore or was that just a fad twenty-some years ago?  I really don’t know.)  After you gave that ring to me we had our first serious conversation about where our relationship was going.  We were pretty sure it was headed straight to the altar.  It was!  And then you gave me my engagement ring on a steamy August night in 1992.  That was followed by my wedding band the following February.  When we had been married for 10 years you caught my loud hint that an anniversary band would be a very nice addition to my wedding set.  I remember we stopped by the jewelry store on our way out of town for our anniversary trip and placed the order.  I was so happy!  All 3 rings were soldered together and I’ve always loved the look of them on my hand.  For twenty years I’ve admired the way the gold glints on the wide bands.  In fact, I toyed with the idea of making the set even wider, thinking that perhaps you should buy me an anniversary band every time we hit another decade mark.  But since we planned to be married for a good 70 years or so, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be long before my wedding set would cover my knuckle if we did that!  So I think your gift of the grandmother clock last year was definitely a better choice than another ring.  But I was planning to hit you up for a bigger diamond for number 25!

Instead, I will have no ring on that hand on what would have been our 25th anniversary – or our 21st next February.


Incidentally, you don’t either.  I had the funeral director remove both your wedding ring and watch before the casket was closed.  Those two items were so much a part of you that it almost seemed like they should be buried with you.  But that would have been pointless.  I’d rather have those items to feel closer to you.  Indeed, sometimes I wear your ring on a chain around my neck.


I ordered a mother’s ring and a memorial ring in your honor.  I’m going to wear those instead.  You know I always wanted a mother’s ring.  But since we were never quite sure our family was complete yet it seemed silly to spend money on something that might have to be re-done later.  Our family is definitely complete now.  We had that conversation last January, didn’t we?  I asked if you were completely content with just (“just” – as though that isn’t a house full in and of itself!) our six.  You said you were good with it if I was good with it.  I was.  I just wanted to make absolutely sure that we weren’t saying no to another blessing God would want to give us.  But you reminded me of that early conversation we had had when you gave me my promise ring.


I had told you at some point that someday I thought I would like to have seven kids (not necessarily with you, though, I pointed out, keeping it cool – just with whomever I ended up marrying.  To be perfectly honest, though, I knew I wanted you to be the father of those seven kids from the time we’d been dating less than a month!).  So you’d given me that ring and the next day you and I sat across from each other in Perkins talking about “someday.”  I was eating a BLT, minus the T. You said, “I like your number.”  My what?  You reminded me that I had said I wanted seven kids someday.  Oh – that number!  And it was decided.  We would have seven children.


The realities of parenthood and the difficulty I had delivering our babies made us re-think that number different times.  For a long time it looked like our number would end up being just three.  It could have been just one if Ben had not survived his 2% survival chances and I’d had to have a hysterectomy.  That’s a reminisce for another day, though.  But then we had Sam and the doctors told us “absolutely, positively no more!”  So we made sure of it.  But then, of course, God stirred us both and we pursued adopting the girls, which is also another reminisce for a different day.  Last January when I asked you about our family size you reminded me of our original plan to have seven.  We lost our little one in 2001 and if we count him (I always have) that gives us seven.  We did exactly what we had planned.


So I ordered this ring with the birthstones of all six.  I think it’s beautiful.  I somehow wanted to work your stone into the mix as well but discovered it can be frightfully expensive to have rings custom made.   So I had this tiny little ring made instead.  It has your pretty birth stone on it and there’s your name on the left, with Psalm 34:18 on the right. I think it’s pretty neat that the first two letters of Psalms are P and S and with this engraving they actually look larger, too.  “PS” was always our thing – our initials and the way we always ended our letters to each other when dating (“PS – I love you!”)  Throughout the years of marriage if we just scribbled a P and an S on a piece of paper and gave it to the other, we knew what was being said.  Now it’s on my ring.    I discovered that verse in a passage in Psalms after our miscarriage when I was so broken hearted.  It was one of the first verses I thought of the morning after you died.  I like the idea of your ring being at the bottom.  It symbolizes that you were the foundation of our family and that your life and your example is still a support to all these children. The birthstone ring is engraved with the phrase, “Children are a gift from the Lord.”  That was something we always believed, even when our gifts were driving us a little nuts.


I’m thankful to have these new rings.  I didn’t want to have a bare hand to look at after removing my rings, but I didn’t want to just wear any old ring, either.  It needed to be something of significance, just like my wedding set always was.


With this ring, I thee wed…we said those traditional words nearly 21 years ago to each other.  They were a pledge, a promise, and the rings symbolized that to the world.  We kept that promise, didn’t we?  “Til death we do part…” Death came last June and now we are parted, much, much too soon. 


Today’s actions could be viewed as symbolic.  I don’t know that I necessarily feel like I am “moving on”, though.   The grief over your death is still pretty fresh and raw.  There are very few moments that pass that I don’t think about you in one way or another.  But, yet – it is time.  As much as I wish we were still married, we aren’t.  Death severed that connection, but not the bond. 


So today I am putting my wedding ring away.  I will get it out from time to time, I’m sure. I may even slip it back on my hand for the briefest of moments.  But it no longer means what it used to.  It is time for me to face the world as a single woman – a widow.


You know that I would have worn that ring forever.  Eventually, my skin would have wrinkled and sagged under it but I would have kept it on for all it meant.  You had my heart.  You still do. 


Even without your ring.


All my love,




PS: I’ve really enjoyed writing to you.  I should have done it more often when you were alive.















1 comment:

  1. Big hugs and shared tears......
    What a beautiful idea.
    God has such a special way to minister to each of us in our own ways.
    I remember having the feeling that I needed to remove my wedding ring as well.
    For a long time I wore it on a locket with a picture of Jim & me in it.
    Then the locket broke. One day I slipped it on my right hand and there it is. I wear my wedding band on my right ring finger. To remind me of the Lord's love for me I wear a simple band on my pointer finger that says Cherished. My left hand is bare. It reminds me that the world sees me as a single woman. But the LORD promised me in Isaiah 41:13 that He'd hold my right hand and help me. So I am not really ever alone.