My husband’s gold wedding band disappeared early in our marriage. My dad lost his as a newlywed, too, leaving it on a public restroom sink. I chalked up their carelessness to being men who weren’t used to wearing jewelry and, even though I was a bit disappointed in my husband, I wasn’t all that upset.
I was, however, mortified when my ring vanished. I didn’t lose things! I was the one who found things—soccer jerseys, car keys, library books.
I reprimanded my kids and husband about keeping track of their stuff, echoing a motto my dad drilled into me as a child: A place for everything and everything in its place! When it came to our wedding rings, neither Dad nor I heeded that advice.
I didn’t wear my rings to bed. Each night I removed them and slid them into a crystal ring dish on my dresser. I checked there first. My engagement ring was there, but not my gold band. I removed my rings for grubby tasks like gardening, silver polishing and washing greasy pots. I also left them at home when I went to the barn because picking manure out of horse hooves is dirty work. Besides, if I’d been wearing my rings the time my finger got tangled and broken in the reins, they’d have had to cut them off.
When we got engaged, my husband gave me a family stone, a lovely one-carat diamond we had set in a simple gold ring. We chose our wedding bands to match and had them inscribed with our initials. Mine read J.M.N. to M.C.M., not as romantic as my mother’s identical gold band. Hers was inscribed in French: Plus que hier, moins que demain (More than yesterday, less than tomorrow), although the engraving has long since worn away.
The day I lost my ring, I searched everywhere. I emptied wastebaskets, dove through the trash, pulled the cushions off sofas and chairs, crawled under tables and beds, and scoured my SUV. More worried about the ring than my fingers, I even squeezed my hand into the garbage disposal.
We’d stood before a minister and exchanged our vows in a college chapel before family and friends. We’d given and accepted our rings as symbols of love and fidelity. I was embarrassed by my negligence and remorseful when I told my husband.
“Um, honey? I can’t find my wedding ring.”
“Oh, I’m sure it’ll turn up,” he said, not upset at all.
“What if it’s lost forever?” I cried.
“Then we’ll replace it,” he said. “It’s just a thing.”
Replace it?! I wondered if you could truly replace a ring that’s been sacramentally blessed and placed on your finger in front of God and everyone, but eventually that’s what I did.
It helped that my husband wasn’t very sentimental. In fact, a few years before, when we were expecting our first child, he gave me an emerald and diamond band for Christmas. That sounds sweet, but the truth is I’d circled it in a jewelry catalog and left it in plain sight. Hint Hint. Since it was our last childless holiday together, I assigned a fair amount of loving symbolism to that ring and was proud to show it off to my girlfriends as a sign of my partner’s thoughtfulness.
A couple of years later, my husband looked straight at that emerald and diamond beauty on my finger and asked me, “Where’d you get that ring?” He’d completely forgotten he’d given it to me, let alone remembered the occasion. He’s got tons of great qualities, but sentimentality isn’t one of them. In the case of my lost wedding ring, this proved to be a good thing, because when the gold band did not, in fact, “turn up,” my husband offered to treat me a new one. (We’d already replaced his long lost ring with a thin, silver band we found on a trip to Mexico.)
My personal taste had evolved since we first chose our rings at the age of 23. I had a few nice pieces of gold jewelry I rarely wore. Instead I piled on silver bracelets, necklaces and rings, so I began to see the lost wedding band as an opportunity to get a ring that reflected who I’d become.
Rather than the separate yellow-gold band and solitaire engagement ring I’d always worn, I wanted just one ring. A friend referred us to her jeweler and my husband and I picked out the new setting together. We had my engagement diamond set in a new, wider band with two rows of shimmering pavé diamonds. It’s white gold, so it looks great with all my silver jewelry and does double duty as both an engagement and wedding ring.
I consider my new ring no less a sacred symbol of love and fidelity than if it had been placed on my finger at the altar instead of at the jewelry store. It feels like a recommitment to our marriage and represents the life and family we’ve built together. For a while, I mourned the loss of my old, gold band; mostly I regretted my carelessness. I eventually forgave myself and got over the loss, because the truth is, I’ve come to love this ring more than the original… and I never let it out of my sight.