Friday, April 29, 2011

as I remember

Photo from here...

When telling a story, Jeff or I would occasionally correct each other's rendition of the tale. Although I am always as truthful as possible, there were times when either of us would need a reminder of the facts of a past event and it was comforting to know that I could always ask him some small memory that was remembered by both of us. "How long was Liv's labour?" "Remember that road trip to Hardy? Why did we camp at the side of the road?"

It seems, however, that my grief stricken brain rewrote a little part of history without my consent.

It all starts with the question I would sometimes get after Jeff's death, "When are you planning to take off the ring?"

I'd stare down at it as I had for years and say "I've never taken it off since he put it on...."

It's not that I was proud of this or felt that it validated my love or loyalty for Jeff any more than it would for any other widow. It was just that it seemed so much more...insurmountable because I had never taken it off....ever. I wanted to moment I removed it to be "just right" and I hadn't found that moment yet.

So last summer at Camp Widow, while sitting with Matt and Mel, I slipped it from my finger. My hand felt naked and odd, but no earthquakes rumbled beneath my feet and birds in flight above the building stayed in the sky.

It felt appropriate to be with others who understood and knew just how big this moment was to me....after all, I had never taken it off, right?

And then, recently, while looking through photos from the days just after Jeff's death, I found one of Jeff's ring....enveloping mine. It was not on my hand. It was on the kitchen table. Somewhere deep in the back of my mind, I think I may remember this moment now. Jeff's sister had asked to see the ring, I think, for comparison to his mammoth-sized band.

I find it odd and, truthfully, a bit scary that I had forgotten this. I went around believing that I had never, ever taken it off. I wonder if anyone else noticed my lapse in memory or if it was just me. Who, other than photographs, will be my 'fact checker' now?


  1. oh Jackie, this made me cry. For I miss those "shared stories" that have now been inherited as mine alone now. There is a safeness in shared stories, security and happiness and warmth. They then turn into memories that are cherished, but without the fun and banter that once accompanied them.

    I too took off my ring once only (before) and for exactly the same reason. It wasn't long after we married ... and the friend who asked us to display the rings laughed at how my ring looked like it was a child's in comparison to his.

    But what really struck me when I read this post was this. I thought ... Jackie doesn't remember this because she never took the ring off in her heart. That is what erased this lone memory. Love.

  2. It is so unbelievably heart wrenching to go over and over the losses as they repeat their cycles of reminding us he's gone. The sinking feeling that materializes instantly in the stomach when a new loss is brought to light or or just pops up again. Yes. All those moments that are only shared by the two of you. There's no more 'Remember when...". Nothing can fill the void.

    I have taken my ring off as well to nestle it inside of his. (I wear Dave's ring on my left thumb.) For awhile I thought that I would move my rings to my right hand after a year, but now as the year mark approaches, I realize that I have no desire to do so. There's no need to move it.

  3. I love your comment, Boo. Thank you. xoxo

  4. My ring and my husband's were much the same size, so I never got to do the "nestling" thing. I think if they had, it would have been easier - I have often thought about having some sort of jewelry made from our rings, but nothing that would involve cutting them.

    I took my wedding and engagement rings off last month (15 months in) to work in the garden, and made the choice to leave them in my jewelry box. It hurt, but in a different way than looking at them on my hand every day.

    Two days ago I discovered that Dan's ring fits on the middle finger of my left hand, so I'm wearing it there. I find it very comforting. It still hurts... but again, in a different way than looking at my rings on my ring finger hurt, or looking at my naked ring finger hurt. I have noticed that I've slept better the past two nights than I have in a while.

  5. 17 months ago, I put Tim's ring on my left hand finger when he was in the ICU just after they intubated him. It kept slipping over my wedding band and up against my engagement ring but I could not bear to remove it...I kept up hope for the day when I would be putting it back on his hand where it belonged. Just 9 days later I moved it to my right hand middle finger just below my father's ring (my mother gave his to me when he died) and now I have my 2 favorite men in the world always there. I have not taken mine off...yet?

    I also miss our shared memory file of 31 years. When you lose the other half of that file, never to be found again, we all know that a part of us died along with him. What we feel is a common phenomenon after loss called "cognitive interdependence". I posted a comment about this on 4/21 on widville under "Where did my brain go" I can post it here if someone cannot access it.

  6. I haven't taken mine off yet, but have been thinking about it a lot. It's been three years...and it feels like it might be time. When I look at it, I feel like a liar because although I will always be married to Jim in my heart, technically I'm not married now. I resist it, though, because I can't bring myself to give up that last bit of physical connection. I hope that I can get to a place where I feel like the time is right.