I wait for loss.
I put my hand to my neck a dozen times a day to feel the chain that holds my mother’s wedding ring. The ring is gold and very thin. If it was thinner, it would be a strand of my father’s hair. He gave it to her eighty years ago, almost to the day.
The ring on the chain around my neck, I seek it. I believe it. I feel the ring, how slight it is, and I am glad to have this thing that belonged to my mother but I am always afraid that one day I will reach up to my neck to feel the chain and it won’t be there. I prepare for grief as I start reaching, the sick dread trickling through me, and then I feel the relief of finding my mother’s ring with my fingers.
Except yesterday. There was no relief yesterday. The chain holding my mother’s ring was gone from my neck. Vanished. Disappeared in the dark in the country’s third largest city on sidewalks traveled by hundreds of people.
On the counter in the kitchen are the three broken pieces of the green glass sea shell plate my son bought for me in Puerto Rico when he went there on a school trip when he was 12. He could have brought me a t-shirt or a keychain or nothing, but he chose the green plate. I don’t know why. I never asked.
I decided to throw the three pieces in the trash and try to find a new special plate. But the stacked pieces sit on the counter, a cairn marking a thousand dinners. There isn’t a plate that has been more present in our lives all these many years. But it cannot be mended and used again. Even I see that and I try to repair everything, everyone. Then my son’s girlfriend said we should glue the pieces together and then paint the mended parts with gold paint because that’s what the Japanese do. It’s about people, she said, about where we are broken and mended. And so we went to buy glue but we couldn’t find any gold paint.
On Facebook today, I read a post by someone who has lost two beloved children. He described how being in place filled with young people became overpowering to the point that he was searching for an exit, someplace to flee to be sick in private, and then his companion jolted him from this desperate state and reminded him that he chooses life. Every day, I imagine, he chooses life over the alternative, which must be standing in front of him with a wide, welcoming embrace day and night. He chooses life.
Now that I have lost my mother’s wedding ring I no longer dread losing it. That is something but I don’t know what. I would have preferred to keep it, to perhaps have been warned by a close call that it might be lost so I would put it away and not wear it every day as if I was special. As if nothing would ever happen. But that’s not how it goes, for rings or anything. This is just practice. I see that now. Everything is practice for what might come next.