Thursday, May 24, 2012

Band of gold

Yesterday I went to a jeweler to have my wedding band cut off. 

No, it’s not the end of our 19-year marriage. The moment itself was unremarkable: I was shopping for pants at the mall, on my way to a hair appointment, when I stopped in at the jewelry store.

After a short wait, during which I worried more about being late for my haircut than about cutting my wedding ring, a man appeared with a turquoise device that had a tiny mechanical circle saw.  Other store employees gathered round to watch. In less than a minute, the ring was split and slipped off my swollen finger.

Why have the ring cut off? That swollen finger requires minor surgery today, and will probably be even more puffed up afterward.  But isn’t it odd that of all 10 fingers that could have developed a cyst, it just happens to be the ring finger on my left hand? And wasn’t it odder still that I took the ring off when the finger started to swell and then, after a week of having it gone, missed it so much that I convinced myself the problem was getting better and shoved the ring back on?  Within a few days, it was too late to get it off again, despite my best efforts with ice and Crisco. Ouch.

Still, despite that mundane moment at the mall, having your wedding band severed feels significant.  This little circle of gold has been a metaphor of commitment 19 years. Had I been smart enough to just leave it off when my finger grew too big for it, it would still be in one piece, a circle complete. Instead, I’m staring at a gap of air between the gold, the circle broken.

If it weren’t for my mother, I wouldn’t even have known you could have a ring cut off.  Twenty years ago this month, my mom married an older man. She was 82; he was 86. She had been a widow for seven years, and she still wore the thin gold band my father had given her 58 years earlier.  Now, when her new beau wanted to slip his own ring on her finger, she couldn’t get the old one past her arthritic knuckle. So she went to a jeweler and had it cut off.

I still have the two pieces of her ring. For me they represent her faith in the future, her willingness to step off into an unknown land.

I have faith in the future, too. Yesterday, the jeweler assured me that my band could be repaired, my circle completed once again.


  1. My mom thought -- in the old Irish tradition -- that once the ring was put on your finger on your wedding day you never removed it. I think that was before they made you take it off for surgery. Recently I was told that if I didn't they'd cut it off. Of course, I'd had it off previously to have it resized so it wasn't the trauma it would have been for my mom. Forty pounds does show up in your fingers as well as on your hips, I learned.

  2. My ring had to be cut off by paramedics last August when my finger got broken in a car accident. I joked, "How many firefighters does it take to get a girl's wedding ring off?" I didn't opt for surgery but my finger is still a bit swollen and crooked, so I haven't gotten my ring repaired yet. Tony had to stop wearing his before my accident, so our rings are sitting in my jewelry box. 9 months and our fingers still feel so bare.