I can't remember the exact date I took my wedding rings off, which bothers me because I remember in minute detail the exact date (time, place, what I was wearing -- white comes to mind) when I put them on, but I know it was sometime late last summer when I'd been a widow about four months.
Best I can recall, it was August and my second book was about to come out. Our Durango and Mustang were taking turns breaking down and costing me thousands of dollars to repair, Borders had just folded which foreshadowed lousy sales and much less income to fix the aforementioned vehicles, and both my sons, still reeling from the loss of their dad, were undone at the prospect of losing me to a book tour. Add to this the fact that I spent most of every day muttering I think I can, I think I can under my breath like the little engine that could, and you can see why, when I look back now, it might not have been the best time to cut my little gold anchors. But I did.
It was morning and I was getting dressed and, like most women I know, reaching for the same jewelry I wear every single day. I say most women because my grief counselor, Laurie, is one of the few exceptions to that rule. She's always got on something different, and spectacular, and frequently handmade (by her, for God's sake) to match her outfit. I look at her all I can think is "How do you have the energy, woman?" She kills me.
But of course death, and my subsequent lack of energy (among other things), has everything to do with why I see a grief counselor in the first place.
But I digress.
I put in my big hoops, slipped on my collection of chunky bracelets that jangle and clang and make all manner of noise because no, my personality alone just isn't loud enough, and reached for my wedding rings. And then, as I've done every day for twenty years, I forced them up over my lumpy knuckle and slammed my jewelry drawer shut. (To be clear, it's only half a drawer. The other half is underwear, and it's an excellent setup until somebody just about gets her bellybutton pierced by an earring post. And yes, that happened. I was lunching with a friend at Michael Jordan's Steak House in Grand Central when I suddenly got a sharp, stabbing pain in my stomach. As I have the worst stomach in recorded history, I chalked it up to more of the same. But later in the ladies room I discovered the real culprit. Lodged in the lace of my underwear was a pointy little stud earring. And no, I haven't felt the same about saltwater pearls since.)
But again, I digress.
At the exact moment I slammed the drawer, my sons started screaming at each other in the kitchen.
"No, it's your turn to do the garbage!"
"I did it yesterday. It's your turn!"
"I fed your dogs!"
"Well I fed your cat!"
They are so selfish! I thought, racing to the stairs and taking them two at a time to the bottom. "Guys," I hissed. "Keep it down! You're going to wake--" I stepped into the kitchen and stopped.
"Wake who, mom?" Casey demanded, looking both fed up with his little brother and frightened for my mental health.
"I didn't say 'wake,'" I lied. "I said 'make.' You're going to make me angry. Now knock it off, both of you."
"She totally said 'wake,'" I heard Cuyler whisper as I went up the stairs.
Sure did, dude, I thought as I tugged off my rings and stuck them in a box. There was no one else in the house to wake up; no one else in the house to tell the boys to pipe down or talk with about the cars or the bills or even Borders. It was all me, and it hurt too much to continue pretending otherwise. I took a deep breath -- and one last look at my little gold anchors -- and tucked the box deep in the back of my jewelry drawer. Then I went down to deal with Big Ears and his brother.
At least I think that's what happened. Like I said, I really can't recall.