We got back to our room in the hotel in which we were lecturing and I pulled off my wheelchair gloves and noticed that it was gone. We searched everywhere. We spoke to the hotel manager and the conference staff and the organization manager and I announced it to the audience, but, no ring.
This whole thing is my fault. Over the past several weeks the ring had become very loose on my finger. I don’t know if it’s because my hands have become quite hardened to the work of pushing my wheelchair long distances, up impossible ramps and down long carpeted corridors, but my fingers got smaller and my ring didn’t. I had said, the day before, that when we got back, I needed to get the ring sized.
Here’s the thing though. Neither Joe or I were really torn up about it. We were saddened of course, and then there’s the fact that the ring wasn’t cheap, but we reacted like we’d lost some thing, nothing more, a thing. It’s a thing that is symbolic in its way, but we have lots of symbols. Joe said, “Losing the ring is one thing, losing the commitment would matter. The commitment is still there, the loss of a ring doesn’t change that.” He had put into words what I was thinking. It had been bothering me that it wasn’t bothering me the way that I thought it would.
Having lived together for so long without the ability to get married. Having faced what we faced, without wedding rings on fingers, without wedding bells in a hall, without wedding vows hastily made before the party afterwards, the ring struggled to be anything but a ring.
I hope I don’t sound cold here, I was sad. But I wasn’t devastated. And we were both reconciled to the lost ring by morning. If it turned up we’d be happy, if it didn’t we’d drive away one ring less.
As we were rearranging things for the flight home Joe found the ring I used to wear, before the wedding. It had been tucked away in a pocket of the computer case. I slipped it on my ring finger and we were good to go.
No ring, but still Joe.
I can handle that.