Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seven Words

Many years ago, on our tenth anniversary, Larry gave me an anniversary band. At the time, a "Diamonds are Forever" campaign was underway, urging men to "give her something that says you'd marry her all over again".  During a tight financial year, this  gift was especially meaningful,  and I've taken good care of it.

The other day, while I was shopping for groceries, between ice cream and frozen vegetables, I heard a "clink". It was barely audible. I looked at the floor around me for something I might have dropped.  An old man noticed. "Lose something?" he asked, and started looking around with me.

But we found nothing.

That night, when I took off my rings, I discovered that my anniversary band was missing. I remembered that little "clink", realized that the metal had broken, and the ring had fallen from my finger.

The sadness at losing this was numbing.  More than missing the ring itself, was to remember what it symbolized: that at a time when it wasn't easy for him to do it, my husband had found this extravagant way to tell me, he'd marry me all over again.

You've probably had that sinking feeling when, even as you realize where you dropped or forgot something, even as you're placing the call to ask about it, you know the person at the other end will be of no help whatsoever. I've called hotels about forgotten jackets, restaurants about glasses, etc.  You wait while they open the door to the office, glance left and right and come back to tell you, "nope, not here." In the meantime,  you've already decided to shop for a replacement.

But there was no replacement for this  piece of jewelry and the statement it made after ten years of marriage, when normal pressures of raising small children, managing finances, negotiating schedules had  allowed us to show each other both the best and worst of ourselves.  And though we have since assured each other of our commitment without a gift or campaign to make the point, this ring represented  an important message at a time that is pivotal in any marriage.

So, my hopes were not high when I called Hannaford at nine-thirty that night to ask a tired, overworked part-timer if he or she would mind searching the floor in Frozen Foods, but that's what I did.

After a ten minute wait on hold, during which two other employees picked up to ask who I was holding for, Kathy from Customer Service was back.

"I have it," she said.
"You do not," I said.
"It's right here. I'm putting it in the safe until you get here."

I've thought about that campaign since, the symbolic importance of this lost and found ring.

It strikes me that of the things we feel for each other, the things we should say, I would marry you all over again, has more sway, more healing power than any other message.   It is not a message that  loses substance with time. It is not the "I love you" we toss out when we hang up the phone or leave the house.

It is also a message that can be as easily lost, forgotten, misplaced, broken as a piece of jewelry.

When it falls off, it may not be with more than a tiny clink , you may not notice right away, but when you discover it's gone, your first regret will be your failure to notice the crack and do something about it. And there won't always be a Hannaford employee to help you get it back when that happens.

So, do that.  Fuse those cracks. If you mean them, say those words:

I would marry you all over again.