(Warning: This is my longest post ever!!! And there aren't even any pictures.)
It was the afternoon of New Year's Eve and we were driving in the car talking about how so many people will get engaged on this night. We mentioned our own spring engagement and I looked at my ring. The one he gave me on the beach, pretending to have found a rock...
Lunch at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant and we're back in the car, driving on the freeway. Only my ring isn't.
My heart sank. I felt sick. My finger was bare. I couldn't even speak. I held up my hand. He swore and pulled off the freeway so we could stop. Immediately I dumped out my purse, looked in my seat and under my feet. I took the baby out of his carseat, certain that the ring would be there. Nothing. I was shaking with disbelief.
I trace my steps. The only place I got out of the car was to go in the restaurant. It must be there. The tacos were greasy and I used lots of napkins. I must have pulled it off when I cleaned my hands...it is in the trash! The TRASH! We rushed back to the restaurant, only to find the trash bin in the eating area already emptied out. We couldn't have been gone for more than ten minutes. A man was sweeping the floor. Did he find a ring? He said no.
We asked about the trash and they took us in the kitchen and showed us the two huge trash bins that all the restaurant trash gets emptied into. We loaded the bags into our car to take home to sort. The cashier suggested we watch the surveillance tapes to see if we notice anyone picking anything up off our table or the floor. It revealed nothing.
Back at home we put rubber gloves on and start sorting the trash meticulously, bit by bit. I'm certain we'll find it. It wasn't so bad. We actually joked about all the good food that was thrown out. We separated out the recyclables and joked that at least we sorted their trash for them. Then we found a penny and joked that "Hey, we found a lucky penny!" and so on. Hours of joking and trash sorting. We make our way to the bottom of the bags, down to the sludge of beans, rice and other wet mushy things. No ring. The reality sets in.
I start talking about how we still have the memory of how he gave it to me. How he secretly took my sketches of my "dream ring" and had it custom made by a jeweler and completely surprised me with it. How it is completely one of a kind. How he acted so weird that day and I kept asking him if he was okay but really it was because the ring was in his back pocket and he was worried about losing it. I tried to be bigger than the situation. How it is just a "thing" and I'm still happily married and I still have him and it is just a material object. But I'm sad. Honestly, I'm so, so sad. I always pictured myself as an old woman wearing it and telling the story. Now I'll only tell the story of how I once had a unique ring but I lost it.
My mood is noticed by my four year old and I explain to him that I lost my ring and I'm sad about it. He shrugs, "It will turn up, Mama. It is in the car. You'll find it tomorrow. Can I have that lollipop now?" I'm half annoyed and half proud that he is so optimistic.
New Year's Eve continues and I try to set aside the issue but it is obvious I'm not completely myself. At one point, my four year old walks up to me and says, "I found your ring, Mama. It is exactly like your old one, only this one is invisible. Now you can be happy." He hold out his small hand with the invisible ring and I take it and put it on and cry. Then I feel better and guilty. I have so, so much to be grateful for, who cares about a ring, right? I'm being a baby. I don't need the ring. It was just a pretty thing that held a lot of memories but I still have those memories without it. It is New Year's Eve. We have a fire going, moules-frites and champagne. I am happy.
That night though I can't sleep. Who has my ring? Do they appreciate it? Will they take it to a pawn shop or rip it apart? Is it sitting somewhere unseen in the parking lot not found yet? How could I let this happen? How did I not notice that it fell off?
The next day I'm talking to my mom on the phone, telling her the story. My husband rushes in and asks me to marry him and in the palm of his hand is my ring. He found it underneath my son's carseat that he took out to turn forward facing. He was also ripping apart the car in a last attempt to find the ring. I scream! It must have been underneath his butt and then did a one in a million thing where it wedged itself through the tiny carseat strap hole and then fell underneath the seat. Or, the more likely scenario is that a magic 2011 fairy found the ring and planted it somewhere where we'd find it.
What a fantastic way to start 2011! And what a relief. I wrapped yarn around the back to make it fit tighter. My hands get cold and shrink in winter so it gets loose. I can't resize it, come summer it will be too tight. Yarn trick in winter it is from here on out.
**I realize that I have no photographs of this ring...yet.
PS - My son wasn't optimistic, he was intuitive. He is often clairvoyant, it runs in my family and he clearly has the gift. Remind me to listen to him more often.