Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

I had been walking my 1-year-old daughter Hailey in her stroller on a chilly October morning while listening to my favorite playlist. I was enjoying the brisk air and the sight of the beautiful, changing leaves when suddenly something didn’t feel quite right. I realized my right hand felt odd—it felt bare. I ran my other finger up and down my ring finger a few times and sure enough, there was nothing on it. This is when my heart sank and I started to sweat. 

Where is it? I just had it on my finger! I frantically searched the grass and retraced every step I had taken in the park.

Deep down, I knew I had just lost my most prized possession—my mother’s wedding ring. 

My mother died a year earlier from breast cancer, and I had been wearing her ring on my right ring finger as a way to feel close to her. Even though it was a half-size too big, I kept telling myself I would get it resized but procrastination had gotten the best of me.

RELATED: Life without My Mother

I squinted back through the grass and pavement, retracing every step. I had already walked about a quarter of a mile, so there was a lot of surface area to scour. I searched the park high and low.

I couldn’t find it and panic began to set in. 

I must have left it at the house. I tried to convince myself as a way to subconsciously calm myself down. 

I rushed back to my car and searched it first. I rummaged through every nook and cranny. I checked the floor, under seats, and even under my daughter’s car seat, which only left me with half-eaten pretzels, Goldfish crumbs, and shame about how dirty my car actually was. 

Since I had no luck searching the car, I then checked every area of my house and ended up empty-handed. My heart was now almost pounding out of my chest, and I was in full-blown panic mode.

I needed this ring. It was on her finger when my mom took her last few breaths on this Earth. More importantly, she wanted me to have it.

I kissed it every morning, before bed, and sporadically throughout the day. To me, the ring was what I, physically, had left of my mom. I wore it every day without ever taking it off to keep her close. And now, she was gone—again.

RELATED: Only a Motherless Daughter Knows

Over the next week, I searched the park continuously. I called the police station numerous times to see if anyone had brought it in, I put up fliers, and even went to local pawn shops in the area, but I always ended up empty-handed.

I knew in my heart it was gone forever. 

I felt like I had let my mom down, I was supposed to keep this ring as a family heirloom and pass it down to my own daughter. I blamed myself for not getting it resized and for going to the park on that very chilly day without wearing any gloves. What was I thinking?

The hurt of losing this ring ran deep. I wouldn’t really get over it until a few years later when, ironically, I lost a diamond from my own wedding ring. When I lost the diamond, I was upset, but not as upset as I was about my mom’s ring. Maybe it was because my husband was still alive or because I knew it was just a material possession. This ring was a symbol of mine and my husband’s love, but it wasn’t just our love. There was much more to our relationship than a piece of jewelry. 

RELATED: Don’t Take Your Mom For Granted—I’d Give Anything to Have Mine Back

I still get upset thinking about mom’s lost ring, but having memories of her that are still very much present, make it a little better. I see traces of her in me and my daughters, including the way we all scrunch up our noses when we laugh or the fact we all have a great sense of humor just as she did.

I am my mom’s living heirloom, and she is alive in me.

This is something I can never lose and everything I learned and inherited from her will be passed down from generation to generation. To me, this is a greater gift than any ring could be.

RELATED: A Love Letter From Mamas in Heaven to Their Beautiful Daughters on Earth

My mom is present in my life through the love I have for my own family, through the recipes she passed down to me, and through all the wonderful memories I can now look back on and smile about. Sometimes, I can almost hear her voice in my head yelling at me for being so upset about a ring. Of course, I wish I had it back, but instead, I live through my mom’s spirit and that is something I can never lose.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Rachel ODonnell

Rachel O'Donnell lives in New Jersey with her husband and two young, energetic daughters. When she's not running around with her children, she teaches English and writing classes part-time. Her writing focuses on overcoming grief and obstacles and discovering gratitude in trying situations.

The Hardest Prayer I Ever Prayed

In: Cancer, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Bald-headed little girl in hospital bed with her mama, color photo

Trigger warning: Child loss I had a plan for summertime fun with my children. We had just returned from a week-long road trip to the Grand Canyon. I intentionally planned to fill the rest of the summer with activities that would chase away boredom. Craft supplies had been purchased, day trips had been planned, and we were just beginning a week of Vacation Bible School. Excitement was in the air! Yet a tiny nagging fear kept resurfacing: Was there something wrong with my 2-year-old? Ever since she turned two back in the fall, she had become fussy. Our healthy, happy...

Keep Reading

Cancer Taught Me to Open My Hand

In: Cancer, Faith, Motherhood
Woman in cancer treatment holding a young child's hand

When I thought I was going to die, grief blinded me. Not really for myself. I’ve had a pretty good run. Reflecting on my life, it’s easy for me to see that my stroll into adulthood was leisurely. In college, I studied literature, a luxurious indulgence. Even as a naive 20-year-old, I understood the extravagance of being able to sit under a tree and read, albeit in sweltering Missouri heat. I studied the world’s literary masterpieces while sweat trickled down my back, mosquitoes nipped at hard-to-reach places, and the MBA students on campus wondered what I was doing. But those...

Keep Reading

“Wear It Anyway, You Never Know When You’ll Get Another Chance.”

In: Cancer, Friendship, Living
Two women holding up dresses, color photo

“It’s way too fancy,” I told my husband. “I’d be overdressed.” My new outfit was a beauty—white and lacy, perfect for a summer cocktail party, but too much for a school function on a Tuesday evening. In the back of my head, though, I heard my friend’s voice. Wear it anyway. You never know when you’ll get another chance. The last time I saw Shalean, I was bloated from chemo drugs, and both of us wondered if it would be the last time we’d see each other. My prognosis was bad: triple negative breast cancer, already spread to my lymph...

Keep Reading

This Is How to Show Up for a Friend Who Has Cancer

In: Cancer, Friendship, Living
Bald woman during cancer treatments and same woman in remission, color photo

One moment I was wrestling with my toddler and rocking my 3-month-old to sleep, and the next I was staring blankly at the doctor who just told me I had stage four cancer that had metastasized from my uterus to my left lung and spleen. “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” I smiled at the young doctor who had clearly never given this kind of news to anyone before. I looked over at my husband’s shell-shocked face as he rocked our baby back and forth in the baby carrier because I was still nursing, and we knew we’d be at...

Keep Reading

I Never Wanted to Be a Hospital Mom

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Toddler standing with IV pole, black-and-white photo

Life as a hospital mom is not a life for just anyone. You have no other choice, there is no get-out-free card you can just put down and say, “Nope, Lord, I do not want this, take it back.” My heart hurts 99 percent of the time. My heart hurts for my child and the pain he is suffering. A necessary evil to keep him on the side of Heaven’s gates.  My heart hurts from the unknown of each day. Will he eat? Will he thrive today? What utter chaos will be thrown our way today? Will there be vomit...

Keep Reading

Cancer Is Weird

In: Cancer, Living
Woman smiling, color photo

Cancer is weird. For 3.5 years I looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize the person looking at me.  First, it was scared eyes. My eyes had lost the look in them that made me feel invincible. I had learned I wasn’t.  A week or so later, I saw the cut on my chest for my port. Then it was a bald head. Then a bald, steroid filled, and puffed up faced person looking at me. RELATED: This is What Cancer Looks Like Sometimes it was a teary-eyed, defeated person. Someone who had been up all night in pain.  I...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Let My Baby Die

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Toddler boy lying in hospital bed, color photo

I wasn’t made for this.  I am not strong enough. Lord, where are you taking me? Why does this joyful time, filled with our last baby’s firsts, have to be this way? Why did the doctors look at me that way? They know what’s coming, and deep down inside, so do I. The inevitable word that is about to come out of their mouths.  The C-word.  Cancer. It’s life-changing.  Almost as if it were a car accident. Believe me, I know about that. To be the reason behind a grown man hanging onto a thread. Completely unintentional. I just needed...

Keep Reading

The Art of Showing Up

In: Cancer, Kids
Dad hugging young son

As a father of four boys, you may imagine that life is hectic from time to time for me.  While it truly is, in fact, quite crazy sometimes, it isn’t always because of the reasons you might think.  I have four boys, ages 11, 4, 3, and almost 2, and that certainly makes for an interesting daily living experience for my wife and me.  We do our best to remain patient and lean on God’s strength and peace to fill us on the days that seem overly daunting and occasionally even downright impossible, but we are human.  Therefore, we fail...

Keep Reading

No One Prepares You for When Your Husband Has Cancer

In: Baby, Cancer, Marriage
Family sitting by window

No one ever prepares you for the moment you hear your spouse has cancer.   More so, no one prepares for you to hear this when you have a 5-month-old at home. “Mom, they said the tumor is cancerous, and they need to enucleate his eye on Thursday,” I say quietly into the phone as I pump in a dirty bathroom stall at the eye hospital.   Whir. Whir. Whir. Whir. Gosh, I hate pumping.  Today is my first day being away from my daughter. My mom is watching her while I made the trip to the eye hospital with...

Keep Reading

l Will Never Stop Missing My Sister

In: Cancer, Grief, Loss
Woman in red shirt

It might be 16 years too late to properly depict the depressive senses that engulfed my whole being when I lost my only sister Aurora to colon cancer in 2006. Painful flashbacks continue to fill my everyday life at the most inopportune moments that  writing about it might somehow alleviate my grief. I remember getting that random phone call from her one sunny day in September 2006 and how guilt automatically hit me. It had been a while since I last saw her. “It’s positive,” she said. Backed with years of joking around and playing tricks on her since childhood,...

Keep Reading