Ring Toss

It finally happened. Just shy of the two-year anniversary of the day it landed on my finger, my wedding ring has made a change of address.

Poor little thing, it only needs a little breathing space — a nice place to sit and sparkle, without the necessary aid of spit, lotion, soap, oil, and hot water whenever it wants to move about.

There’s an indent there, and a very faint white line where it used to be. A groove around the base of my finger I keep rubbing with the other joints, feeling about for my ghost ring and trying to get used to its absence. It took me almost a year of the same disjointed twitch to get used to its presence there.

The action makes sense: I’m pregnant, it’s summer, and my hands are swelling. I need to take my ring off before it has to be cut off.

But the… do I mean to say “implications”? No, let’s say the “relationship” of the body, the material symbol, and the things it represents… I wonder if other women see it as a strange connection. The ring that made me a wife is sacrificed — for a very short, but noticeable time — for the baby growing in me, the baby that will make us a family.

Let me tell you about my ring. (It is almost anniversary season, after all, and I think I get a little sentimental leeway, given the givens.) We weren’t planning on diamonds at all. It was a cost thing, but equally important, it was an aesthetic thing.

As we first started seriously thinking about marriage, I realized I didn’t want the traditional solitaire engagement ring. Shoot, I’d have gotten married with a bread-tie or a 50-cent vending machine ring if it meant we didn’t have to wait for someone else’s idea of what engagement should look like (and cost).

The husband found the perfect middle ground, and proposed with a beautiful silver and amber ring on Christmas Eve.

As long as he’d known me (8 years at that point), I’d worn amber on chains around my neck. The dark-honey stone meant everything to us that a diamond means to anyone else. It burned a hole in his pocket all night, and it was the most special thing I’d ever slid on my hand.

When it came time to pick wedding rings, I admit, I did look at diamonds. Lots of them. But I just couldn’t see the big flashy ones. They looked wrong on my hand… too much and not quite enough, all at once. At the jewelers, we eventually decided diamonds were beyond our wedding budget and gold bands would be a perfect start.

And then I walked away for a few minutes. When I returned, the husband had a pleased little smile, and a very small, very shiny array of tiny diamonds winking up at me. “I thought you needed a little sparkle,” he said, “and I figured out how to make it work.”

There may have been 2 or 3 that he chose for me to try, but I knew my favorite the minute I saw it. It’s small, not much bigger than a band, and with 3 stones set in 3 white-gold waves. I’ve always loved the look of a traditional “anniversary ring” and wished I didn’t have to wait so long to see the lovely representation of my past, present, and future every time I raised my hand to work or play.

So that was it. The perfect ring he chose for me, and which has delicately twinkled the last two years. Every time I see a friend’s bigger, sparklier ring, I think, “How perfect for her.” And I still can’t think of anything else on my own finger.

And earlier this week, I had to take it off.

So what to do with my perfect-for-me ring? I’ve added it to a thin gold chain and pendant that reads, “St. Christopher Protect Us.”

Now, being a Lutheran, I believe in the sainthood of all believers. Rather than relying on the divinity and miraculous deeds of individual persons, I find truth and protection in the “brotherhood of saints.” All who accept God’s love are sainted by His grace, and given His own ear for any prayer, any need, any wish.  (Whether we get what we ask for is a whole other story… but those Saints aren’t all yes-men and -women either!)

But as to the Catholic medal around my neck for the next few months…

Well, my mother gave me this pendant when I was doing a lot of flying, mostly out to see the husband when he lived across the country for 3 years. In turn, I got one for the husband; St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. That personal connection means a lot to me… I wear the pendant whenever I travel, and I think of my parent’s love that sends me, my husband’s love that receives me, and God’s love that continues to travel alongside and within me, St. Christopher, and everyone who journeys to an unknown place.

What better companion for my wedding ring, close to my heart and easy to touch?

It really is an “unknown journey,” this path to becoming a parent, a mother. I don’t know what’s coming, or how I’ll fair, or who I’ll even meet on the other end. But whether my ring is on my finger, around my neck, or just an idea I cling to, I know I am protected by the love that sends me, receives me, holds me, and grants me my own love to share.

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