Setting aside a beloved symbol….

Dear Andrew & Ben,

There have been only a few times since we’ve lost your daddy I’ve felt called to write to you specifically.  This blog is for you, after all, and most of the entries are just my thoughts and feelings as we traverse through this maze of emotions and sometimes-harsh realizations.  It is my hope that at some point in the future, whenever you are both a bit older, you can read these entries and gain both comfort and perspective about your dad’s death; we’ve come a long way in these almost-six months, but we still have far to go.

I want to explain to you a decision that I’ve come to gradually over the past 3 weeks.  We discussed it in a general way yesterday, with my giving you as much information and justification as I thought you could handle at your ages.

I’ve discontinued wearing my wedding rings, at least on a regular basis.  It was one of the hardest, most poignant decisions thus far that I’ve made.  But it feels right, and I feel the need to express the reasoning behind it.

I loved your dad with every fiber of my being.  I still love him.  He was the single most influential person in my life…from age 22, whenever we first met, to now, as I look at my 49th birthday less than 3 months away.  Marrying him was the best decision I ever made, and we had it all.  Losing him was the toughest, most painful day of my life.

After his death, I took comfort in wearing his wedding band on my ring finger, flanking it with my band; it was loose, but my ring anchored it.  I put aside the diamonds he gave me, and that’s a big adjustment for me, in itself; you know I’ve always loved diamonds, for heaven’s sake, they are my birthstone 🙂 ! I could look down at my hand anytime I wanted, and seeing those two rings, stacked on my finger, made my days seem just a little bit more bearable.  He gave me his band the day he had his surgery, along with his drivers license; I still have the license in my wallet, and the band will always be precious to me.

With all that being said, as we have progressed through the months, I began to feel a bit odd, still wearing the bands.  In my mind, over and over, I hear the vows we took.  They end with “til death to us part.”  If anyone had asked me 5 months ago if I’d be putting the rings away, I would’ve thought they were nuts—and been highly offended that the question was even raised.

But here in the past few weeks, I’ve felt the need, no, the desire, to take them off from time to time.  Kind of like whenever you started to learn to ride your bikes, and Dad removed one training wheel.  As you gained confidence, and got your bearings on the balance you needed, he removed the other one.  Before long, you were riding like you’d done it your whole life.

I’ve done much soul searching, a lot  of praying and meditating about this.  I truly believe that God is telling me that it is okay to take off those bands.  They will always be a symbol of your parents’ love for each other, of the commitment we made before God in 1988.  But your dad’s now in heaven; nothing we can say or do can change that harsh reality.

Our lives have forever changed.  We are now a family of three.  I believe with all of my heart that your dad wants us to move forward.  One of the quotes I keep coming back to is one that Sharon Randall, syndicated columnist for our paper, shared after her husband died.  A close friend wrote to her soon after her beloved Randy passed away:

 “The challenge for you now, having lost your loved one, is to live a life that is honoring to his memory, while at the same time, that life moves forward, so that only one person has died and not two.”

By symbolically putting my rings away, I am moving forward.  I can honor and remember and love your daddy without those rings on my finger.  Just as I believe as a United Methodist that baptism is a outward symbol of an inward transformation, taking those rings off is a outward symbol of my coming to terms with your dad’s death.  
It doesn’t mean that I’m looking for a replacement for your dad.  NO ONE could ever replace him.  Anyone who knew him wouldn’t even venture to try.  But it does mean that I am open to whatever God has in store for us.

I am perfectly happy being alone.  It’s strange, I never thought I would be able to say that.  Once again, God’s grace is at work.  Although I do get tired from time to time of wearing these “big girl boots,” the decisions I am forced to make now, as head of the household, are also empowering.   

I’m spreading my wings.  God is opening numerous windows for us.  I feel no guilt in moving forward, and I anticipate wonderful things continuing to come our way.  If He has someone in store for us to share our lives with,  I will welcome it when the time is right.  We’ve certainly learned that God isn’t on our timing schedule; all things are done in His time.
That’s the long version of why I took off those wedding bands.  Too much information for you now, but not for the future.  Yesterday I preempted your inquiries by being up front with you on why they were not on my finger.  You were satisfied with my reasons, and that made me proud.  
You are growing up so fast, and in many ways, it’s happened too soon for my liking.  It’s an unfortunate by-product of our circumstances, but I choose to embrace it and make it a positive.  
I love you both more than anything in this world.  With God’s continuing help, we will make it through.  
All my love,

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