I never dreamed something so small could take up so much brain space. How I could spend hours contemplating questions surrounding it. The angst I could be filled with because of it. But then I remembered that JRR Tolkien wrote an epic saga about the power of and devotion to a simple circle of gold. Men and women alike invest hours thinking about and pondering its appearance and fit. Thousands of dollars are given over for the hope encircled in its representation. For something so small, it does indeed wield great power and control. It holds connection and memories and commitment. It holds our heart.
I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, regardless of age, or if it’s a big deal because of my age. I know I’m not alone in this swirl of ponderance over my wedding ring. Do I continue to wear it? For how long? I feel like a fraud with it on. I feel like a fraud with it off. Should I put it on my right hand? Should I wear it on a chain around my neck? If I take it off, what will people think of me? Am I single? Am I still married? Gee, I kind of feel both – and neither. Sigh.
Much internal dialogue has been spent on the meaning and commitment behind the ring. There’s thought of the appearance itself – what it says about ones loyalty, commitment. And, of course, gasp, scandalous thought supreme – what about the possibility of a new relationship – someday, maybe? The ring is removed; it’s a trial run, just while at home. Oh, but it feels so strange, so wrong. And the finger looks all skinny and odd. No, the ring goes back on. This plays out time and again as the concept and questions consume.
In the midst of all the questioning, I’m also thinking that if I’m feeling “desperate” to find an answer, I’m not ready for it just yet. Now, that’s not always the case, but more often than not, if there is frantic scrambling for and near anxiety over an answer, the best answer is, “no, leave it be, for now.” When I realized I was being a bit frantic over the questioning and idea, I let it alone. The questioning and contemplating and internal dialogue didn’t stop, but the “no” was enough of an answer to satisfy so I could stop feeling anxious about it.
Here’s the deep part of the pondering. This is the really hard part. And it’s the part that is so intensely personal. That ring embodies commitment and love; loyalty to the one to whom it is linked. It is the outward expression and sign that our heart and life and future are linked to another. We are “taken”. We are committed to nurturing and tending to the growth and health of that relationship and that person. When that person is no longer here, that link is broken. Finding a way to realize that we cannot feed and nurture and tend to something that is no longer here, no longer alive, is a struggle to reconcile, but it must happen in order to move forward in a healthy life.
In the case of a deceased spouse, keeping the memory alive cannot be akin to keeping the relationship alive. And keeping ones memory alive should not prevent us from living. If we stay stagnant, giving our all to “honoring the memory of,” we actually dishonor the memory because we stopped living and loving and thriving.
I’m not going to forget the man I loved and shared life with for almost 23 years. He is part of all my memories for a significant chunk of my life and the father of my kids. Of course I’m going to talk about him and remember him and miss him – always. But my life didn’t stop. God still has something for me to be a part of here in this life. And I want to live it. And I want to #Discover. And I want to #LoveOnPurpose and be bold. So, I may have reconciled the whole “ring” issue, but it doesn’t make it feel “right” or “natural”. I will honor my marriage, my late husband, my name, and my life, and I will walk forward and see what God has in this next season of life as best I can.
When you notice my hands, my rings (and since I talk with my hands so much it’s pretty inevitable), it’s okay to ask. I would love to share.