He told me the diamond was Montana mined, found in the mighty mountains of Montana. I’m not sure if that was true, but I loved the thought of it. He gave it to me one night, slipped it into my glass of champagne when we went out to dinner. I watched, through glistening tears, as the bubbles floated to the surface in the glow of the candle light.
Several months later, the day before Cinco de Mayo, he put it onto my finger, told me how much he loved me. We stood on the Palisade Bluffs in Santa Monica, surrounded by family, as we took our vows. I was a bit worried some police officer would come by and tell us we were not allowed to get married on public property. So, we were stealthy in scouting, before finding just the perfect place by a circle of rose bushes, and there we stopped and gave ourselves to each other.
For 28 years since then I have worn it every day. On occasion, I would take it off for doing dishes or digging in the dirt. But other than that, every day, all the time, I would touch it, fingering the gold, twisting it about my finger. When I was cold it moved easily, when it was hot, it was harder to shift. In May of 2017, the man who gave me this ring passed away. This November it will be 2-1/2 years … somehow.
Towards the end of my grief support group they asked if we still felt ‘married.’ At the time, I thought the answer was ‘no.’ I didn’t feel married the same way I had felt married when we were together. And yet, I have not yet taken off the ring.
On occasion I try. One day I was gardening and took it off, placing it safely on my dresser. I thought I would test it, leave the ring off for a while, ween myself from it. But once my hands were clean, my finger felt naked. I could feel myself searching, like a blind woman, for that missing piece. I could see the white band against my darker skin – a puzzle needing to be complete. “Where are you?” They called to each other, my finger, his ring, “where are you?” And quickly, quickly, I slipped it back on. There you are, there you are. Relief.
But now I am going on 2-1/2 years, and a voice, not my own, whispers “Isn’t it time? Isn’t it time to take that ring off, to let him go?” I consider the possibility that by keeping this ring on, I am showing the world, and any potential partners, that I am still committed to another. How could I possibly invite another love into my life when I wear this ring as my protection?
I consider for a bit, what I would do with the ring if I took it off. I could place it in a velvet lined box and put it on my dresser. Maybe I would give it to my daughter when her wedding day came. Or, as I’ve seen others do, I could put it on a chain and wear it around my neck, close to my heart. He is here, and yet, not here.
But then my finger, my heart, shouts out “Not yet! Not yet!” And I realize I don’t have to take my ring off, not now, maybe not ever. In this moment, it is not necessary, there is nothing to prove. There may come a time in the future, when it will feel right to take it off, or when I meet someone who will want to replace it with one of their own. We will see.
But for now, in this tiny way, each time I touch it, twist it, slip it on and off my finger, watch it sparkle in the sun, my Montana mined ring, I am reminded of him, my love, my Mountain Man.