It wasn’t a decision I put any thought into.
In the shower, I looked down at my hand and slipped the diamond band off of my ring finger and onto my right hand.
It was done.
I didn’t cry. In fact, I smiled as I stared at the white line wrapping around the place my ring has sat comfortably for the last five years. I laughed and thought to myself, I no longer look like a married woman but instead a married woman looking to have an affair.
I loved that ring but what I really loved was the man who gave it to me. Joe Clark walked into a jewelry store with the most cash he’d ever had and walked out with a tiny box. He’d later tell me how he cried in the parking lot as emotions completely overwhelmed him.
He asked me to marry him on an airplane. He was stuttering and I wasn’t paying attention until the diamond was in my face and I looked up to see the tears streaming down his.
I now have the ring but the man who insisted I get two wedding bands to hold it on my finger, is gone. He isn’t coming back. No matter how long I wear his wedding ring around my neck or talk to the ashes on my bed stand, I will never make another memory with him.
Maybe it was at the salon where I was asked if I was engaged and my ring was complimented that I was triggered to take it off. I didn’t feel like being the widow that day. I didn’t want to get “the look” and turn the air around me into a cloud of uncomfortable chatter as the person inquiring tried to walk themselves out of the mess they stepped into.
That mess is my life. It follows me everywhere I go.
But I have a choice. Live without him OR live for him.
I’m deciding today to go with the latter.
Joe would have turned 32 years old this Friday. I’ve already outlived him. It’s a strange reality to think about but one I have to remind myself to acknowledge so I don’t fall back into the same routines the world pushes on us.
My life is hard but it’s a life he would have given anything to be apart of. I’m alive. I woke up today. I have bills and stress and schedules and sadness. I have joy and love and family and a little toddler who feels safe in my arms.
Cancer took all of this from Joe. He didn’t get to live his life as long as he wanted, so now, I live for him.
I cannot stand still in the memories of the past but have to grab onto the future I am lucky to have. I have to find a way to make my life matter.
To “bite off more than you can chew and then chew it”, as Joe would tell me. That’s how he lived his life.
I think about my ring and know in my heart moving forward is the grandest way to honor him.
I’m living the life you didn’t get to, Joe. I hope my life is the greatest tribute to the love you gave me.
From the author: Grief is a very personal thing and should not be judged or should anyone feel pressure by the words and decisions I write about here. This is your journey, thank you for supporting mine.