January 24 will mark my dad’s 7-year deathaversary. It’s significant for a couple of reasons.
First, I never really understood why my mom was so different after my dad died. She mellowed. She changed. She was comfortable being alone even though she and my dad had been married for nearly 50-years.
Second, my mom also started to wear a gold chain with my dad’s wedding ring on it. I noticed she had put it on there immediately after he died, but never really thought about its significance.
When Suzanne died, it was a t 1:13 AM Sunday morning August 19, 2018. After completing some paperwork and dealing with some other things I needed to do, I drove home from the hospital with Suzi’s mother and father in the car. We were silent. We were numb. The light of our lives had just gone out and my heart felt so shattered, I cannot describe the immense physical and emotional agony at that very moment. Somehow, on autopilot, we made it home safely.
Interestingly, how I can remember so many things vividly but others not at all. I don’t actually remember arriving at home, getting undressed or falling asleep. But I did. I do remember that I stayed in bed, with exception of shuffling around the house for a hot drink and to stare blankly at the refrigerator, not hungry or willing to eat, the whole of Sunday and Monday. Basically, I was a zombie. I was alive but no longer living. The whole of my world had collapsed around me and as I sit and write, I can feel every single emotion and feeling from those moments like it is still happening. That’s what grief truly is.
It was Tuesday morning. I got up. still hadn’t showered, but I got dressed. I walked out of the house. I can’t remember exactly what time it was, but the sun was shining, so I walked into town. I was wandering pretty aimlessly. Just breathing in the fresh air and the sunshine on my skin. I was still so numb and in shock. I went in to a small jewelry store on Main Avenue in Fallbrook town center (this is the little town where Suzi and I had moved a mere 10-months earlier to begin a new, more relaxed and easy life together). As I walked around the store, I started looking for a chain. I didn’t know what I wanted, but knew it if I saw it. It had to be perfect. Not too flashy. Not too heavy. Not too dainty. Not too thin.
As I looked at all the chains, nothing was right. The owner, a kind guy (who is maybe in his late 50s), asked what I was looking for. I told him a gold chain. He asked what I wanted it for. I reached into the pocket of my jeans (that I had been wearing at the hospital two days earlier) and pulled out her wedding ring.
He looked at me, and I told him, “I want to put this on it, so I can always carry her with me.” He looked a bit confused but quickly became a look of understanding. He never said another word. He reached over and opened a drawer. Inside were some slates with chains attached to them. He grabbed just one, handed it to me and said, “It should be $250. Just tell her (the women at the register) it’s $100.” It took everything I had to not burst into tears at that moment, as I put her wedding ring on the chain and then put the chain around my neck.
That’s when I finally knew why my mom wore my dad’s ring around her neck.
When I moved house in August, I put them all away. I put my wedding ring, Suzi’s wedding ring and an eternity ring on the chain. For some reason (this will be the subject of a later blog post), I put them somewhere I couldn’t remember. So for the last few months, they have been “missing”… I found them over the weekend and put the chain back on around my neck.
Today, I am no longer wearing the wedding ring. Instead, I have only left the ring she wore most often on the chain. It’s her eternity ring, and I think it’s the most fitting. Because I will love her for all eternity…
The ring was her favorite piece of jewelry. When our youngest daughter, Emily, was born in Dec 1999, we had been married four years. I bought her the eternity ring because it had four sapphires (her favorite stone and it represented one for each year we had been married) and it had three diamonds (one for each of the beautiful daughters she had carried and given birth to). It was a fitting and meaningful piece of jewelry.
Today, it rests right above my heart. It dangles on a gold chain that a kind shopkeeper offered at a ridiculous price simply because he could. And it means so much more to me than I could ever express in words.
This August would have been our 25th wedding anniversary. Suzanne’s mom and dad will be celebrating their 60th anniversary in June. It hurts me to the core of my being to know I will never see a 60th anniversary with Suzi. And I will probably never see a 25th or any other milestone wedding anniversary with anyone… unless I re-marry soon (and I do seek to be in a co-creative partnership with someone and recently met a widow who is so closely aligned with my own ideals, that I think I could possibly have found a person who could be my “Chapter 2”). As yet, I am still unsure whether getting married again is something I truly want, but I remain open to the possibilities.
While I am saddened by the fact I may never see any of those anniversaries, I am proud of the fact I do have eternal love. The endless circle of love for Suzanne and hers for me covers me and my life. And it symbolically hangs around my neck on a ring on a chain…