December 2012: One of the low points in my life. I had lost my job earlier that year and now it was almost Christmas.
I wanted to hide away from the world. Not only because of the embarrassment and shame that accompany hard times, but mostly to focus on getting my life back together.
I took my daughters to the Family Dollar Store to buy some packing tape. Possibly the most depressing store ever.
I found two kinds of tape. One was $2.99 and the other was $1. I joked to the clerk that I was too poor to afford the $2.99 roll as I paid for the $1 roll. After we left, my older daughter (who was only 10 at the time) said “Mommy! Don’t tell people we’re poor!” Clearly, I had embarrassed her.
A week earlier, I created an eBay account. Being out of work meant I had to start selling some personal things. In just one week I had sold two items. I was excited, until I got to the post office and spent $18 for postage on an item I had only charged a $3 shipping fee for. Live and learn.
As soon as I got home, I immediately readjusted the shipping fees on all my other items.
Which brings me to the rings. Years before, my ex-husband had given me a beautiful 3-stone engagement ring. One large center diamond, representing the present and two smaller diamonds on either side, representing the past and the future. The other was a beautiful custom made engagement ring given to me by a man I dated for 4 years after my divorce. A beautiful 1.5 carat cushion cut diamond, surrounded by beaded diamonds and a diamond wedding band to match. It was beautiful. I tried to return it to him after we broke up, but he insisted I keep it. Both gifts from men who had loved me at one time. Now gone, but with memories still attached.
I never imagined I would have to sell such things, but I never imagined a lot of the hard times I’ve faced in my life. Sometimes things just happen. Reluctantly, I posted both sets on eBay. The custom set alone was worth well over $5,500, but I asked for less than half.
Being new to eBay, I assumed no one would buy them, so I took them to a local jewelry store. The appraiser took all four rings (two diamond engagement rings, and two bands) to a room at the back of the store. A few minutes later, he returned and offered me only a small fraction of what they were worth. I knew his offer was unfair, but before I could think, I heard myself say “Okay.”
As I left, I suddenly felt sad. It wasn’t that I would miss the rings (I hadn’t worn them in years), but that each one had a string of memories attached. Like the warm spring day when my ex-husband got down on one knee to propose, and all I could think about was how corny he looked. (Maybe I’m just an awful person.)
Or the December day, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and lost my engagement ring. We had been Christmas shopping all day. I never realized it was gone until after we’d returned home. We spent hours that evening, driving from store to store, retracing every step and scanning the parking lots, searching but never found it. The next day, on Christmas eve morning, I took the dog outside for a walk. And there in the grass, reflecting in the morning sun was my ring.
Or the day my ex-boyfriend threw the ring box at me and said “Here. I got you something.” A gorgeous engagement ring, custom made just for me and how he threw the box at me. So terribly romantic. Anyway…
I had always imagined passing my rings and all my other pretty things, down to my daughters. Not that I owned anything spectacular, but each piece had meaning.
And now they were gone. And that made me sad.
But when you’ve been unemployed for 6 months, and it’s 3 weeks before Christmas, diamond rings don’t seem all that important anymore. Not to me, anyway. I used the cash the man at the jewelry store had given me to buy Christmas presents for my girls.
Gifts for two deserving little girls who still believed in and were expecting the arrival of Santa? Or a few rings?
To me, the answer was obvious.
To most people, a ring is a symbol of everlasting love. But to me, a ring is simply another pretty thing that you can wear. Perhaps nothing more.
I’d give up a hundred rings to have just one person who won’t abandon me when things get tough. Someone who will always be there to support me, no matter what.
No material object – and certainly not any kind of ring – can ever replace that.
I’d rather have a man strong enough to hold me when it feels like my entire world is falling apart. Or when it feels like I’m falling apart.
I’d rather have the love and support of my best friend and lover holding my hand, every single day. Because rings and objects don’t mean anything when you’re alone.
In the end, all that really matters is having the people who you love, standing beside you.
And no piece of jewelry could ever be worth more than that.