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.
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.
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.
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.
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.