It was February 8, 2017, three and a half years after I lost Rick.
I finally removed the wedding ring from my finger.
I never thought seriously about taking it off until then. It was as much a part of me as the hand that wore it.
My hand was alternating between aching and going numb, and my finger was swelled above the ring. Also, upon closer inspection, I finally realized that the knuckle of that finger was wider than the ring sitting beneath it! Funny, I didn’t notice that happening. (My shoe size increased after having two children…but my hands? Wha?!)
So one night, I soaked my hand in ice water, slicked up that finger with lots of baby oil, and wrestled it off…
Just as I should have.
I stared for a long, long while at the ring and the finger it had been glued to for 35 years…and oddly, I didn't get upset. Not one tear.
Maybe that is why I stared so long…mesmerized. Maybe I was expecting a meltdown. It never came.
My daughter had ring sizers in her jewelry box, so I used them to see what size my right hand ring finger was…size 8. And while I know our right and left sides are not perfectly matched, I measured the size of my wedding ring expecting it to be close to that…but no…size 6. Two sizes different? Then, I measured the size of my wedding-ring finger knuckle…size 7.5.
No damn wonder my hand was aching!
So I decided it was time to try this new hand out...this ring-less hand. And for a few months afterward, I admit I experienced twinges of guilt…as if I was wronging Rick somehow. I thought about having the ring re-sized…if that is even possible without ruining it…but no.
No. No. No! I won’t do that…
And I shouldn’t!
Let's face it, the day I lost Rick was the hard part...burying Rick was the hard part…trying to comfort his children who loved him so dearly…stumbling through life's decisions, emergencies, family tribulations without my best friend…that was the hard part…IS the hard part!
So, taking a ring off…after the horror of losing Rick...after living without him...well, it just cannot be compared. And it is ridiculous to try!
And as the ring slipped from my finger…maybe these thoughts were in my subconscious...the meltdown that never happened explained.
All of us experience grief in our own way, don’t we? Equally, we create a new life in our own way, at our own pace…each of us so unique while moving through this shared experience of loss.
I have finally come to realize that the only ‘wrong’ I could be guilty of…at this time…in my experience…is NOT taking this ring off…and keeping it off.
September 23rd will be the 4th anniversary of Rick’s passing…and I am finally strong enough to put this symbol away…physically and emotionally.
I still have symbols, mind you, but they are the living, breathing kind...my children and I.
We are the only ‘symbols’ of Rick that matter. The women who still love him most dearly. The women who pray for him everyday. The women who speak his name…frequently…just as we always have. Those who laugh at his quirkiness. Those who make sure his grandson knows how wonderful his grandfather was…and still is. Those who bake a cake on his birthday every year. Those who pass on his wisdom for the benefit of others. Those who will never forget...
We are his legacy. WE are the ring…the only one that matters.
It is now September 9th...7 months after removing the ring and the aching and swelling are gone...but a clear indention remains.
I don't think so...(smiling)
It is just as it should be.