Yesterday I took off my wedding ring. This may not seem like a big deal, but it has been a part of my body for 26 years and four months. The jeweler made our rings snug. After all these years, mine was tight, with puffy skin above it and calluses above and below. Every day since my husband Fred died in April, I have thought about how I need to take it off. I love the ring, love the way it shines in the light, but I’m not married anymore.
Finally in the shower, when my hand was soapy, I forced the ring off. As I shoved, my finger turned red and puffy. It hurt. It would have been so easy to just push the ring back into the place where the skin is white against the tan, but I kept pushing until it finally slid over the knuckle and came off.
Now the ring sits in the guest room on the nightstand next to Fred’s. I have tried on other rings to cover the blank spot, but none fits well, so I will work on making that finger the same color as the others.
Our rings were unique, created by a Los Angeles jeweler whom we met at an art and wine festival in Cupertino, California. We had been looking at various festivals and antique shops for something different. We brought the jeweler a bag full of old gold jewelry that Fred’s mother had given us to lower the price. After looking through her designs, we came up with antiqued filigreed bands with smooth borders, one in size 7 and one in size 10.
Fred was still wearing his ring when he died. My friend slipped it off his finger. He had lost so much weight it was loose by then. I knew mine needed to come off, too. You might wonder why. I could wear it forever if I wanted to. But the ring says I’m married, and I’m not. I needed to remove it to move on.
So far no one has mentioned the absence of my ring. I am surprised at how often I touched it, turned it, fingered its rough edges. I reach for it now, and there’s nothing there. My finger feels cold, as if I just took its coat off. It feels light as if it will just fly up in the air on its own.
Married twice, I have worn a wedding ring most of my adult life. Will I ever wear one again? I don’t know.
It will be four months on Tuesday since Fred died. One-third of a year. Most people have stopped coming up to say how sorry they are. Now they’re congratulating me on my new book. (Shoes Full of Sand).
But I am all too aware that a piece of me is missing. And not just jewelry.