Artifacts

Artifacts

When moving forward in life alone, objects start to take on more significance than they’re supposed to. Often times these days, I feel like an anthropologist digging through the ruins of my own house.

I was putting dishes away the other day, when I dropped a plate. It was a rogue saucer, a thick, mint green plate decorated with a brown bamboo pattern on it. Before I met him, Tim had picked up a set of four from the Asian market in Cary because he thought they were pretty. As I picked up the broken pieces and held them in my hand, I thought about the other plates it used to live with. Black with red trim from Target. We had gotten rid of the Target set when we got married, but held on to the few pretty Asian plates he liked. Now I had just broken the last of them, and as I held the jagged pieces in my hand I thought of all the ancient pottery and artifacts I’ve seen in museums around the world.

Bamboo plate fragment, circa 2000. Believed to be the last artifact from bachelor life. Owner suspected to use these plates to eat vegan chikin salad & baguette from Whole Foods.

I threw the busted plate away. I did not cry, even though I felt like I almost wanted to.

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Humans are emotional beings, and we place meaning on many objects that aren’t meant to have it. However, material things can’t escape tradition and sentiment and some of the artifacts of my widowhood carry an undeniable weight with them.

I stopped wearing my engagement ring pretty soon after Tim died. The only time I threw it on was when I wanted to feel “extra fancy”, because even in months prior to him dying I found myself wearing it less. This is more to due with the fact that it has been slightly too tight recently than with anything else. Plus it feels strange wearing a largeish diamond while you’re currying dust off your horse.

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As of this week, I’ve stopped wearing my band too. The first few times I left the house without it, life felt weird – like I forgot my phone or my keys or my bra, important things! When I look down at my ring finger, I see a slight indent and a tan line. Like many aspects of my marriage, the absence of the ring has left a large shadow.

The truth is, my finger also feels lighter now and less restrained. I can put the ring back on anytime I want to feel that binding again, but I’m not sure how much I will. Taking it off now is very clean to me. 5 years. 4 months. Too many feelings to count or label.

So both rings sit on a silver tray on my dresser. When I’m ready, I’ll take the rings to a jeweler to have them remade into something new.

On my right hand, I wear Tim’s wedding band on my middle finger every day. It’s not even the original, which lives in the bottom of the Guadalupe River in south Texas, but a replacement I gave him for our fourth anniversary. It’s dark metal with a wooden inset, and he loved it when I bought it for him. The underside has a dull, worn patch in the center where he would wrap his hand around things or rest it on a keyboard. When I close my fist, I feel the thick band hit the side of my fingers on either side. It is strong, simple and understated. It reminds me of him.

I may wear it for the rest of my life.

13 thoughts on “Artifacts

  1. That’s a wonderful idea to have the rings made into something new eventually. I’ve been meaning to do that with some of my grandma’s jewelry that she left me. Not sure what though!

  2. I have that same thought. There are things in my house that I keep because they belonged to someone I cared about. I don’t particularly like them but I can’t get rid of them. My mom did/is planning the same things with her rings. She started wearing her band as a stackable ring. Still pretty but less weddingy.

  3. I have a gold nugget on a necklace chain. The nugget is from several old family rings melted down to form the gold nugget .

  4. Sentimental attachments to inanimate objects does feel weird at times. When I sold the truck that moved just me, my two cats and my small UHaul of my life’s ‘stuff’ from Detroit to Dallas, I cried.

    It was like i was losing a piece of what made me, me; and losing the last few ties to the life I had back there.

    Of course, I posted the video of It going down the driveway, wishing It to be good to Its new girl…and sniffled. Friends understand.

    I think God smiles at stuff like that <3

  5. What KateRose said. Also, I know what you mean about things taking on some significance beyond their purpose as whatever thing it is. I get wrapped in in history of certain clothing items or books. “I wore that when….” or “this book meant this or was given by that person.” Keep observing and writing!

  6. i place inordinate amounts of significance on material objects, exactly like that plate. and it can feel really restrictive. i love the idea of creating something new from your wedding jewelry – seems liberating and refreshing

  7. When my father died my mom had her engagement and wedding band stones put into a necklace. My step father has added onto it as well. She wears it almost every day. And I wore it at my wedding.

    There are a lot of things you can do with it to make it a daily or dressing up peice and I’m sure when you are ready you will find the perfect setting/ design.

    I have some things that I place strange importance on as well.

    1. Wanted to add that I didn’t mean the last remark to say that any of your feelings are invalid. Just that I have things that are oddly comforting to me. Like a chair that my dad gave my mom etc

  8. This just resonates. Things don’t have feelings but they have the power to make us feel all the emotions. engagement rings and horses for sure don’t go together, I try to always remove mine before the go see Pong.

  9. When my uncle passed away, my grandma took his gold and diamond band and turned it into a ring with several leaves with the diamonds set throughout them. I got it when she passed away and it’s my favorite piece of jewelry. The good part is that you can make it completely unique and still retain the sentiment.

  10. This post made me choke up. Because I totally get it.

    My grandfather had this huge umbrella in blue and white that I took possession of when he passed away. It travelled with me from PR to Tampa to South FL and kept me dry through many, many a thunderstorm without needing rain gear because it was so enormous. One day while in tech school I left it in our classroom by accident and was never able to find it. I was unreasonably upset over the loss of this umbrella, but it was because it was a functional thing that had belonged to someone that had meant the world to me.

  11. I love that you’re wearing Tim’s ring and I think that’s perfect. Your wedding set is gorgeous – I’m sure a good jeweler can make all kinds of suggestions. After my dad died, my mom took her diamonds out of the settings, added a couple other heirloom stones and had a beautiful cocktail ring made. It’s totally unique and someday – hopefully not for a long time yet! – it will be mine, and a wonderful repository of several generations.

    I would have gone to pieces along with that Asian dish, though…

    I am absolutely, positively a nut about about keeping stuff that is “sentimentally valuable.” Years worth of birthday cards, childhood stuffed animals, way too many clothes “I wore to —–,” etc. Heck, I even have schoolwork I did in Kindergarten that my mother saved! This is not to mention the furniture, jewelry and artwork that I inherited from my grandmothers and other relatives. All treasured items though to many I’m sure I look totally wacko. I have one friend who never keeps ANYTHING. She literally doesn’t know the meaning of sentimentally valuable. Ah, well, we all have our foibles!

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