“I like the plain ones,” I said.
“Me, too.” It was our first together-purchase, wedding rings at Hannoush Jewelers in the Holyoke Mall. With stars in our eyes, we bought mine for $75 and his for a little over $100. We didn’t have enough left to stop for food and that was OK.
More than fourteen years later, and over a year after his passing, I decided to take off my wedding band. I pulled it to the top of my finger, then pushed it back down to the base, and repeated the action a few more times until I finally allowed the air to touch the inside of the golden circle.
“I’m afraid I’ll drop it,” I said to my friend, raising my brows and opening my eyes wide so I could see the ring through my tears. I pressed my fingers into the metal, hoping for just enough pain.
“You can put it back on,” she said. “You can do whatever you want to do.”
We were sitting on the deck in the backyard of my Raintree house in Jacksonville on a warm overcast day, smoking Camel Crush after Camel Crush, trying to buy time. Days earlier, I asked if she would sit with me so I could not be alone when I took it off.
Looking back, I realize that making it a deliberate moment made it worse to take it off. Too, I believed taking the ring off would grant me some peace and diminish my mourning. Of course, I was wrong, but it almost makes sense still.
Shouldn’t it be a moment, though, one with celebration and invitations? There comes a day for some survivors, not all, when the rings come off. Taking off an emblem that is heavy with meaning becomes a moment, whether or not an intended one. I did wear mine on his dog tags around my neck for some time alongside his, but then became afraid it would fall off so I put them both in a dark, velvet box together. It was a weaning of sorts.
Also, I believed removing my wedding ring gifted me with a solo identity which is something widows and widowers lose, maybe forever. I thought it would help me find Teresa, the individual, and not Teresa whose only worth was her widowhood. That also wasn’t the case. Time is what I needed, and I thought I could rush it. I wanted to rush it, not because I didn’t want people to know about Roger, but because people were forgetting about me.
I had a diamond that was my Nana’s but only wore it on holidays and special occasions. The band, though, never came off, a simple, thin golden band that even fit me during my swollen pregnancies. There was no engraving on the inside because it wouldn’t have been legible due to it being so thin.
I’ve always had this habit, a type of tick, where I would use my thumb to check for my ring. It’s never fallen off before so I don’t know why I was always worried it would, and I still have that fast-fleeing fear, even though I don’t wear it.
As soon as my thumb hits the base of my ring finger, I think, “Oh yeah, I don’t wear it anymore.” Maybe it’s from so many years of wearing the band that causes me to still feel its absence, or my tattered subconscious giving me grief.
I choose, however, to believe it’s Roger, holding my hand and placing a small kiss at the bare place where the ring once was, offering me strength and reminding me of not only our marriage, but of that snowy night in Massachusetts, our first day of a long life together, even if I am the only one still left here on Earth.
So I’ve learned to morph my emotion when I feel the need to check for my ring. Instead of mourning deeper and waiting for the darkness, I choose the light, and to completely feel his presence and welcome it for what it is, just an angel, one I know well, saying hello.
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