The Ring

Hello, friends. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m dropping in to say hi, and because – after so long – I have a story to tell.

Here we go.

When my mom turned 16, my grandparents had a ring made for her. It was a unique design, and it contained the diamond from my grandma’s engagement ring. When I turned 16, a number of years after my mom had died, the ring was passed down to me.

Later that year, I sat in sophomore English class as the teacher read from a book. The passage ended:

Inherit their strength, their resilience, and become who you choose to become.

I’ve never seen it again and I don’t know to whom I should attribute it, but that phrase struck a chord with me and I immediately jotted it down. It reminded me of my mom and grandma – both exemplary models of strength and resilience – and this simple sentence told me that I could draw upon those traits while still forging my own path. The ring, then, served as a tangible reminder of the “tough stock,” as my grandma would says, from which I came.

Years later, in 2003, my purse, containing my car keys, wallet, cell phone, and a brand new tin of Altoids, was stolen. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and rather hormonal. While in retrospect, the theft was not a huge deal, the whole experience felt quite traumatic at the time.

A year or so after that, I realized I hadn’t worn my ring in a while, as my fingers had swollen during my pregnancy. It was then that I had a distinct memory of putting the ring in the inner pocket of that purse, the one that had been stolen.

The ring was gone. I was devastated.

I’ve told this story many times over the years, and I always say that I consider it a blessing that it took me months to realize the ring had been stolen, too; it would have taken an already-emotional situation into the next stratosphere.

Regardless of putting that spin on it, though, the sadness I felt about losing my ring hadn’t waned. I didn’t even have photographic evidence of it, despite magnifying every picture I could find of my mom’s or my own hands. It was gone, but it was often in the back of my mind. Just a few months ago, I read an article about inviting what we need into our lives – the law of attraction, so to speak. As I read the article, for whatever reason the ring came to mind. It was impossible, though, for it to come back into my life, since it was at the bottom of a landfill.

Or so I thought.

Last month I had been scheduled to fly to Chicago for a professional conference, but my flight was cancelled the night before due to an impending snow storm. That morning, Andy and I awoke to an alarming sound coming from our bedroom wall. An alarming chewing sound. An alarming chewing sound that suddenly stopped when I pounded on the wall.

Yeah. This was not good.

An investigation of our basement led us to the indisputable conclusion that mice had invaded the storage area right below our bedroom. I can hardly even type that sentence without shuddering. I am deathly afraid of mice (something I definitely inherited from my grandma and presumably my mom, as well) and I was NOT AMUSED with this development. However, since I had planned to be out of town, we had the entire day free (which never happens) to deal with the situation. Cleaning out this part of our basement had been on our to-do list for ages, but we never had the time and/or motivation to do it. Suddenly we had both, and we decided to do it right. I went to the store and spent $100 on plastic tubs, rubber gloves, and garbage bags (which spawned a number of questions and theories from the people in line behind me, including one person who said “If Andy doesn’t show up to work on Monday, we know where to look!”) and we went through every item in every box; we uncovered stuff we forgot we had – posters that had hung on Andy’s wall in college, pictures that we had actually had to send away to develop, all sorts of junk.

We kept some and pitched four times more.

It was Marie keep-only-what-brings-joy Kondo on steriods. Because mice.

As I sifted through a box filled with my high school mementos, I stumbled across a scrap of notebook paper.

Inherit their strength, their resilience, and become who you choose to become.

That little scrap of paper without a doubt brings me joy, and it went in the “keep” pile.

We continued through the storage room and moved on to an adjacent closet, where I keep my out of season clothes. (Or where I kept them, until I had to throw them all away. Because mice. My sweaters, though. Lord have mercy, it pained me.) In any case, this closet also contained a small cardboard box that I had never unpacked when we moved into our current house (it’s only been 10 years…), which evidently contained whatever happened to have been on my nightstand at the time. Reader’s Digest, a half-finished cross stitch project – important things like that. It also contained a small wooden box, which was full of safety pins. As I dumped the pins in the trash bag, something caught my eye.

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The ring.

It was there, in my house, for the past 13 years. Even though I remember looking there for it before. Even though I remember seeing it in a zippered pocket of that old purse. Even though I thought it was impossible that I would ever find it again. It’s here.

I truly don’t have words to describe what it means to me. More than two weeks have passed, and every time I glance at it on my finger, I am surprised to see it there. And the chain of events that led me to find it — the canceled flight, the disturbing sounds inside the wall, the day devoid of any plans or obligations, the determination to de-clutter our house in a way we’ve never done before — it’s incredible.

For years, this ring represented the strength and resilience of my mother and grandmother. Now it also serves as a reminder to trust that life will bring us what we need, and that nothing is impossible.

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Comments

  1. This is truly wonderful and makes me so happy. Losses like the ring hurt more deeply than is reasonable to many, but they are real. I’m so glad your ring came back from its hiatus at just the right time.

  2. Ellen Flory Duncil says:

    That is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Thank you, Emily, for returning to write this deeply touching story. I know that ring. I saw it on your mom’s hand when we were growing up together as neighborhood friends. I know how precious that gift was to your mom when she got it. I love that it now gets to be on your hand at a time of grateful appreciation for the amazing legacy for your life. I’d love to get together with you sometime to share stories of how I knew your mom as my very first friend and through the years as we grew side by side. She is so proud of you!

  4. Love this so much. I really think it is a miracle! God giving us what we need, when we need it.

  5. Allison Walton says:

    Wow!!

  6. Rita Miller says:

    Emily, I was envisioning this ring on Kathy’s hand, the whole time I was reading this story. I always thought it was so beautiful! I probably had not thought about it in a million years! But, your description brought it to mind, just as clearly as your photo. I can picture it on your mom’s hand, and know that it looks just as beautiful on yours! You are Kathy’s daughter. I know she is smiling.

  7. This is AWESOME!! So glad you found it! ?

  8. LOVE this!

  9. What a great story! Glad to see a post on here! :)

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