Sweet Sixteen: A Story About Marriage and A Missing Ring

wedding-ring

I remember a lot of detail about that moment. I know I had come through the front door to an empty house, it was a cold fall night, and our telephone sat on a table inside the kitchen. I checked it for messages and heard your sister's voice tell me this:

I'm so sorry you lost your ring. You and Louise must be so upset. 

Except I couldn't be upset about something I didn't know. Something you hadn't told me. 

The details of our confrontation about the lost ring have long since faded. I must have known the secret-keeping meant remorse. And I must have understood you told her first, because you didn't know what to do or how to tell me. 

We came together to search over the next several days, but never found it. I wasn't angry, but it did hurt me. When I slid that ring on your finger and gave you my vows, I also gave too much weight to its symbolism. I thought we needed it as a reminder we had chosen one another. It had been less than a year since our wedding day, and I still felt tentative in our new roles. 

Maybe that mindset was part of my youth; we were so young then. I believed commitment and love were made stronger if they were marked with outward gestures. And if that symbol could so easily be lost, so early in our marriage, how easily could the strength of a relationship meant to last a lifetime be lost, too?

But you've never shared that thinking. I knew that about you then.

And I love that about you now, even when I forget that I do

You pour your love into private moments and the quiet work of marriage, while I busy myself with the loudness of it. 

Before the time we could order everything with a click, you convinced a pharmacist to show you a medical supplies ordering catalogue and then convinced him to place an order for something called a fetoscope because you had been watching me struggle with anxiety about losing another baby. He tried to warn you it would be hard to use. But you patiently listened to my swollen belly every night until she was born—though neither of us could make out a heartbeat most of the time. And I know for someone who relies on facts more than feelings, it was a lot for you. But it was never about you, it was about believing in us, and that's what comforted me most.

No one knew about that fetoscope but me and you and the midwifery student I eventually gave it to, when I was ready to let it go. There have been moments like this too many to count over the last 16 years, but I have counted them anyway. Most of the gestures that remind me of your commitment and love are hidden from the rest of the world, because you only want me to have to them. 

As the months and then years passed, they were more than enough to replace the ring. 

Then came an opportunity for me to create a new ring for you with my own hands. And it felt like the right time. I don't need a ring to reassure me anymore. I know it could never truly represent the work it takes to bring ourselves together, to meet each other halfway, to stay committed. Experience has taught me how little material things matter when we measure the worthiness of love.

Instead, a new ring would be a reminder of the work and the worth of our greatest achievements, both joyful and hard. And I wanted to give this reminder to you.

wedding-ring

It began with a larger piece of sterling silver that I had to cut and shape to fit you. It wasn't easy to saw through the metal, and take only what I needed, though it seemed right the hardest work was at the beginning. I began tentatively until I found my rhythm and came away with an imperfect and somewhat jagged piece that I filed and filed until it was smooth. 

After that step, I was handed a torch and given careful instructions about heating the metal with care, so I could bend it into its final shape. I watched as the metal turned yellow, blue and finally red. And it struck me how the colours could be used to describe the fear, sadness and anger that are also part of being in a long relationship with someone you love.

wedding-ring

Though they are emotions we don't like to experience, we've shared enough of them to understand they also help to change and soften us. Playing with fire is scary—because it changes everything. And there have been moments I have been scared. When I couldn't find the version of us I had imagined. When I knew we couldn't go back, but wasn't sure how to go on. But without the flame, that changed the metal and rearranged its molecules so the two ends of silver could meet, your ring would never take the shape it was meant to. Fearlessness and faith is what we need to be able to bend and bring ourselves together; you've helped me have both. 

wedding-ring

To solder the ends of the ring together, I had to heat and grab tiny flecks of metal and place them along the open seam until it became invisible. I picked them up carefully one at a time, imagining they were the people and experiences that have helped make us stronger. And I reminded myself that without them, a crack would always appear. 

The final step was to rinse, sand, and polish the metal back to its perfect state; a gleaming surface that offered me a glimpse of my own reflection as I hunched over it. But we have to look at ourselves as much as we look at the other when it comes to relationships. Love shouldn't have to be proven. It grows by encouraging it in each other. And you always do. I hope I do, too.

Now when I look back, I realize it was easier to tell your sister before you told me. You knew you wouldn't share the same sense of loss I would feel when I found out. Even then—at the very beginning of our story—you knew losing that ring wouldn't take anything from us. 

And you were right. 

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It was very meaningful to be able to create this ring in my talented sister-in-law's studio

She offers wedding band classes to couples, as well as intimate jewellery-making sessions.

Yes, she was the one who left the message on our phone.

And she is also one of those tiny flecks that helps to hold our ends together.