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.
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.
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.