Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rejoice With Me!

Our wedding, July 5, 1986

Three years ago October I lost my wedding ring.  Mid-afternoon on Wednesday I was aware of it on my hand, and mid-morning Thursday I realized it was not.

I had been switching out summer and winter clothes as cold weather was settling in in Western Pennsylvania—pulling short-sleeve, lightweight garments off my hangers and out of the drawers and hauling big plastic tubs of heavy sweaters around in my room. Some things went into the dryer for freshening up; some things went into piles for Salvation Army. And somehow in the midst of all that my ring slipped off my finger.

My husband had designed the engagement ring for me in yellow gold. The diamond—a modest weight but of high quality--seemed to float between two swirls like hands curling around it from either side, and later the jeweler made a wedding band to follow the curves. The slender band broke shortly after our honeymoon, so we had the two pieces soldered together.  I wore it for 23 years.

The Thursday I realized I’d lost it I dedicated myself to going through every pile and tub and drawer, everywhere it might have fallen. I took almost everything out of my closet and crawled along the baseboards, listened to sounds in the vacuum as I passed the nozzle everywhere I could think of, retraced my steps in the house and garage, dug into the car I was driving when I realized it was gone. Nothing.  I held back the Salvation Army donation bags until I had a chance to sort through them again and finally released them. When spring came and I switched out clothes again, I searched everything again.  No. And the next fall and spring. No.  And the third fall, no.  Nor spring.

I finally filed an insurance claim a year ago, complete with my loving memory of the details of the ring and a photo from our wedding album—my hand, a beaded lacy point from my wedding gown, orchids,  my husband’s gold-ringed hand next to mine.  The insurance company sent a check, but we just didn’t have the heart to shop for another ring.

Meanwhile I’d been wearing my grandmother’s large diamond in a white gold setting, with a diamond wedding band—lovely but not mine.  My heart sank regularly when I considered what we had lost, what it symbolized, its beauty. Regularly I prayed that we might somehow find it. One day this summer I prayed like that, while walking on a country road:  “Lord, if that ring is anywhere out in the world, somehow, by some means, could we find it?” Even as I prayed that, other things crowded into my mind, hopes so much more important than recovering a piece of jewelry that I was ashamed to pray for its return. But I knew the Lord knew my heart—the hope of the ring became a pledge I made to believe Him for the other things.

A few weeks ago our oldest daughter became engaged, her diamond ring a delicate antique art deco filigree in white gold, and last week I drove to town to buy some gifts for her kitchen. I stopped in a local store where a particular clerk always calls out my name with a smile as she sees me coming. She knows my husband better because he stops in more often than I do. But she always cheers my heart. As she rang up my order I just happened to look at her right hand and saw what looked like my lost wedding ring! I could not believe it and looked again, then looked up at her—I know in shock—and asked where she got it, how long she’d had it. She looked a little puzzled and said her husband had bought it for her, probably five or six years ago, somewhere local but she didn’t know where. I told her briefly how I’d lost my ring and that I was almost sure it had gone to Salvation Army with a donation.

She said she didn’t think he’d gotten it at Salvation Army. No, I told her, they probably realized it was valuable and sold it to a jeweler . . . .  By this time I was aware of a couple of people in line behind me and didn’t want to take more time, but I couldn’t just turn away. I looked at her nametag, with her initials, and was ashamed that I did not know her name, even while she knows mine and my husband’s so well. I looked into her face and said, I know with tears in my eyes, that IF there was any possibility it was my ring, we would give almost anything to get it back. She asked for my number and said she’d talk to her husband, but she felt sure she’d had it longer than the three years I had been missing mine.

In my car outside, trembling, I called my husband and told him of the possibility. He could not believe it, either, but I told him I was almost sure it was my ring. We discussed it later and felt we should wait at least a couple of days for them to talk about it, to work it out. Those days turned into a long weekend, and finally she called me. Her husband, too, thought he had given her the ring four or five years ago, but they agreed that if I was convinced it was mine they wanted me to have it, and they would not accept payment for it. He could not recall what he had spent on it, and if she was content to give it to me, he was content to let her do so. I told her a little more of the history of the ring—my husband designing it and our having the band soldered to it, and we even discussed the size. I told her I wanted us BOTH to be convinced it was my ring or that it was not, and to be at peace about that. We agreed to meet the following evening. I kept trying to remember the ring—WAS it my ring? How could I be sure?

I took my husband with me to meet N-----*, and as she walked up to us she smiled her usual smile and pulled the ring off her hand. As soon as I held it in my hand I knew without a doubt. We showed her the photo from our wedding. Oh yes, she agreed, it sure looked like it!  She knew I knew it was the one, and she gave me a big hug and said “Happy Birthday!” She explained that her husband and his brother liked to get coffee together in a nearby town and then go poking around different stores. When he had seen this ring he knew she would like it, especially the design of the wedding band soldered to the engagement ring—like the one he’d given her years before.  

In the day or so since I got the ring—today is my birthday—I keep looking at it and marveling at this little miracle. It could have been lost in my own room all this time, and well I know it. But maybe it went to a Salvation Army in our town, and then to another town twenty-five miles away, and then a man from our town saw it and bought it for his sweet wife, and she’s been wearing it for two or three years, believing it much longer.  And then I happened to notice it on her right hand—had I not seen it during those two or three years? And then, amazingly, she and her husband were willing to just give it to me, content to have been temporary caretakers of a lost thing.

May the Lord bless N----- and D----* in their love, in their generosity, in the days to come.

What woman, having ten silver coins**, if she loses one coin, 
does not light a lamp, sweep the house, 
and search carefully until she finds it? 
And when she has found it, she calls her friends together, saying, 
“Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!”  
Luke 15:8-9, New King James Version

*Not their real initials
** Greek drachma, "a valuable coin often worn in a ten-piece garland by married women" Ref.


Maggie said...

What a beautiful post! I am so glad you found it, I too would be devastated if I lost my ring. Me and my husband designed mine and it is very unique. So happy you got your happy ending!!!

billgncs said...

real life is better than fiction. A great tale, thanks for sharing it

Linda said...

This story brings me much encouragement as I lost my wedding ring 6 years ago. I pray that one day I will have a happy ending like yours!