Persons, places and things: Journey of a wedding ring

Barb Arland-Fye

My wedding ring disappeared the morning our family left for a visit with relatives in Minnesota, and I felt as if I had lost a part of me. My husband, Steve, and I searched for the ring the morning we left for our trip and the day we returned home. We couldn’t find it, even though it had been lost in a relatively small bathroom!
In the days and weeks that followed, I absent-mindedly rubbed the finger on which Steve had placed the wedding ring 27 years ago in St. Patrick Church in Clinton.  Wistfully, I hoped out loud the ring would show up and I prayed silently for the same thing.
That ring symbolized our history as a couple in addition to our love and commitment, which we professed in our marriage vows May 25, 1985. That ring had been on my finger when I flew to England five years later with our first-born son Colin to visit my parents. Our then 3-year-old son had been newly diagnosed with autism and Steve and I were at very different places in the grief process. The ring remained on my finger through those challenging years of trying to understand autism and our son’s needs.
The ring didn’t come off for road races, cleaning house, giving birth to our second son, Patrick, and a myriad of other activities and milestones in our lives. The ring didn’t come off even on a treacherous water park ride that spun me around and spit me out — much to Steve’s amusement. I was tempted to throw the ring at him since he had convinced me to take the ride!
But most of all, when I looked at that ring, I pictured the love on my husband’s face on our wedding day and all the days after that — even the difficult ones. What might have destroyed our marriage in those early years ultimately bonded us, through the grace of God.
Paul Giblin, Ph.D., writes that “Growth throughout the marital journey requires openness and flexibility. For people of faith, it also means being alert to the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit. Contemporary culture wants answers and certainty; faith requires trust and surrender. The invitation to the marital journey, and the resources to undertake it, come from God. God gives us enough clarity to take the next few steps, even if we cannot see the entire road and where it will end.” (www.foryour, a website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
Steve speculated that my wedding ring had bounced off the bathroom floor and slipped inside a sliver of an opening in the base of the bathroom’s vanity unit. If his hunch was correct, he’d have to dismantle the base to retrieve the ring. While he’s a good jack of all trades, he’s not a carpenter, and I was skeptical about his hunch.
One night I returned home from work to find the wedding ring inside a small, heart-shaped box on my nightstand. Steve had found the ring just where he thought it might be. As he described the process he went through to retrieve the ring, I fell in love all over again. It’s the sacrifices, the dying to self for the sake of the other that gives meaning to this circle of love around my finger.
Barb Arland-Fye

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