Wedding rings have been on my mind recently. Here is what I wrote on my personal blog.
I can't take off my wedding rings. I know I don't have to. I can't take them off. I loved and love these rings. I loved them when I first saw them when we went engagement ring shopping together. I wanted a proper engagement ring, another case of magical thinking that if I had a traditional ring it could protect us against divorce. (Again, never considering the possibility of death.) We went to Boone's and Sons and met with a woman named Kay. She was kind and warm and it was so exciting. I wanted to pick out my ring. If I was going to wear this ring for the rest of my life then I wanted to be certain to actually like it, not just wear it because it was given to me. Ron, who was impossible to shop for, understood that. But, then I wanted Ron to surprise me with it. Okay, bridezilla. But that is what I wanted and Ron was happy to indulge me. So, we bought the setting and I came back another day on my own to pick out the diamond. Then the jewelers ordered it, set it and called Ron when it was ready. He proposed to me casually, one Saturday morning when I was still in bed in our apartment in McClean. "Will you marry me?" YES!!!!!!!!
We'd already talked about a future together. I pinned Ron down when we were on an airplane returning from a trip to Italy. I just wanted to make sure we were in agreement that marriage was where our relationship was headed. We were. No coercion necessary. On a Tuesday night, after work one day he dropped down on his knee and said, "Caroline, on my knees, in front of all these people, will you marry me?" and gave me the ring. No, there were no other people there but that is a line from the movie Moonstruck and we both loved that movie. I just watched that scene and now see that it is even more appropriate (and funny) as a set-up for our engagement because Loretta also made Johnny jump through small hoops with good luck as the rationale before she accepted the proposal. After I had the ring we went public and I remembering calling Andrew and Tracey and it was bath time for toddler Max when I called. I remember wearing the ring the next day at work and not telling people but having them notice and congratulate us. I felt so proud.
I love these rings because they represent the man I loved, the marriage I had, the life I was lucky enough to have. I look at them and feel good, wow, I had all that. I can still hold on to it by wearing the rings. I cannot let that go yet. I expected to wear them until I died or maybe until one of the girls was ready to be engaged and then maybe, I would have considered letting her have the ring. Maybe one day they will wear the rings. I don't know. When Ron died there was a time when I literally couldn't get them off. It was strange. It seemed like my fingers swelled in protest of his death. Now they can be removed from my finger but they won't be. Now the diamond is chipped, the rings are scratched and misshapen, but they will not be removed.
The rings feel like protection, too. They keep me linked to what was a stable past. Without them, I feel vulnerable to the unknown. I feel protected from unwanted advances and from being thought of as a randy widow out hunting other people's men. I don't know if anyone actually thinks that of me or would think that of me but I have heard that is common. My rings are a shield that says, "hey, I might have the death cooties and represent your worst nightmare but I am not going to make a play for your man". I am overdoing that point a little. I don't actually spend that much time being concerned about that. But they do feel like protection. I felt protected and shielded and cushioned by Ron.
I never tired of my rings. I never was jaded when I looked at them. I was always deeply thankful to have found Ron, to love and be loved by Ron. I can make a grand statement like that because it is fully and completely true. Even when I thought he was being an ass and I didn't know if our marriage was going to be a lengthy one, I was thankful for our intertwined, woven together lives. I was the lucky one who Ron wanted to be with. I knew I really loved him when I realized that I had to tell him that I loved him and I didn't care if he didn't love me back. I just knew that the only right thing to do would be to give him my love openly and freely. It was exhilarating to give him the present of my love. And, he did love me and he did tell me.
Ron told me I should remarry. He said you are good as part of a couple. He didn't want me to be lonely. He gave me the gift of telling me so on more than one occasion. It always made me cry because it was a slap of reality that he was going to die but I also was conscious enough to know that he was helping me and releasing me because he knew, and I knew, that I wouldn't want to be alone for the rest of my life. I wouldn't have wanted him to be alone if the situation was reversed.
I may not want to be alone in the future but I sure as hell am not ready to date. I am not far along enough in my grief. My heart, my mind, my being is still with Ron. I hope that some day dating sounds appealing instead of nauseating. I know that it either will or will not happen and I can't force the issue nor do I want to. So far, no one has dared asked me if I plan to date or remarry. THANK YOU, people for the tact and sensitivity. Only one person told me (not asked me) that I should date and she is not someone whose opinion I much value and I just mirthlessly laughed it off.
So some day, maybe, I will find someone new. I know I can never have the relationship I had with Ron because he isn’t here to live his part. It has to be different. In this life I have been single, married and widowed. I am different. When I think about my life with Ron and the possibility of a future with someone else, I think about my rings. How I still wouldn’t want to take them off. I wouldn’t want to let all that goodness go. Couldn’t I wear them forever because of what and who they represent? Could I wear old and new rings together, the intertwining of two loves? My life with Ron is forever woven into me. That can’t change. Our lives together happened. For thirteen years our lives, our love and our worlds were intertwined. And, I have the rings to prove it.