When my husband proposed to me, he did it with a beautiful round cut diamond just under a carat. After wearing a “promise ring” for several years prior that was little more than a diamond chip (with a running joke that it was his promise to buy a better ring), my engagement ring looked enormous on my finger. It was set fairly high and it took me awhile to get used to it, during which time I was constantly whacking it on something – a doorway as I walked through, the wall, whatever.
After some time, it simply became an extension of my hand and I hardly noticed it anymore. It was simply a part of me. Then we were married and we both got our wedding bands, a symbol of our love for each other. And after while, that, too, simply became a part of me, and I hardly noticed I was wearing it.
Years later, when we had moved to Florida, the value of my diamond became more than merely sentimental when we reached our first Summer. School was out, we had three kids, ages 9, 7, and not quite 2, and no babysitter. We didn’t have family to call on, and we were both working full time jobs, and our girls needed to be somewhere other than home alone all day. (Our son was already in day care, so we didn’t have to worry about him.)
We found Summer Camp nearby run by the city, at a reasonable weekly rate (meaning, as long as we didn’t eat every third day, we might be able to swing it), and we signed them up. What we didn’t know at the time was because of the transient nature of so many residents in Florida, everyone was seen as a potential flight risk and the city wanted to make sure the Summer wouldn’t close with empty, non-paying spaces where little campers used to be.
But they had a plan for that; it called for paying for an entire Summer of camp (times 2) at the start of the Summer. Having been in the state for less than a year, and still trying to gain financial traction, we didn’t have the $1400 they were looking for. Heck, we moved south with less than that in our pockets! If we wanted to have a safe place for our kids to be while we were working, we had to find a way to come up with that money. That’s when we realized the potential (and literal) gold (and diamond) mine that sat on my left hand. So we found a jeweler that provided loans for valuable items (nooooo… not a “pawn shop” because that would have been too sleazy… but an honest-to-goodness jeweler. Yeah… to be honest, the only real difference was that they were a real jeweler and dealt only in jewelry for their “loans”, which is probably the difference between a hooker and call girl… it’s all semantics but one can charge more).
So I took out a loan on my diamond (obviously well below its real value), and put the girls in camp for the Summer. Crisis averted. But long story short, despite making regular payments on the loan, there came a time when another financial challenge arose and eventually, I “lost” my engagement ring. But we each still had our wedding bands, and that was good enough for me.
Fast forward to several years later when we were visiting Sanibel Island for the day. My husband had lost a fair amount of weight and his wedding band was loose. At some point, he realized that it had slipped off his finger in the surf. We searched for awhile, to no avail, but had absolutely no idea where it might be because he wasn’t sure at what point it had some off. It was simply gone, and we were both kind of bummed about it.
A few weeks after that, we found ourselves on the same beach standing hand in hand looking out at the water. We talked about his ring being “out there somewhere” and as I looked down at my own finger and back up at him, I noticed a certain look on his face and I knew what he was thinking. So I said, “I feel as though I should throw my ring in, too, so they can be together. What do you think? Should I?” He raised his brows and said simply “yup”.
So I slipped the ring off my finger and kissed it, before handing it to him to do the same. Then he kissed my palm, and put my hand in his, and we tossed it in the water together (although to be truthful, it sounds much more graceful than it was – we were more the comedy side of a rom-com than the romantic side most of the time, and it was rather awkward trying to throw one ring with two hands). But we forever after believed that our rings would be together in the Gulf of Mexico while we were together on dry land (when in reality, someone with a metal detector had probably discovered it the day after he lost it).
Now, while our rings were symbols of the love my husband and I shared, they were merely material things, and could be replaced. Our love could not. It’s funny how many people forget that. If you woke tomorrow and had nothing but those you love, would that be enough for you? Would you curse the things you lost or would you be grateful for what you had left?
I challenge you to really take a look at your “stuff”. All those possessions you’re so proud of – your house, your car, your priceless antiques, those Manolo Blahniks you got for half-price, whatever you think epitomizes what you’ve worked so hard for over the years. Then look at (or think about) your loved ones. Think about that moment you first laid eyes on them, when you saw your spouse across a crowded room and locked eyes, when you looked into the face of your newly born child, the first memory you have of your parents or siblings or cousins or friends. If your house was on fire and you had to get out quickly, which would you gladly leave behind because it could all be replaced? I can pretty much guarantee that (unless you’re a sociopath) it would be your things. No matter how much they cost you.
So, remember to appreciate what’s truly important to you. Say “I love you” often. Tell those you love what they mean to you. Remind one another why you are happy they are in your life. Hug them. Kiss them. And cherish every day you have with each other. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?
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