To Whoever Finds My Engagement Ring

To Whoever Finds My Engagement Ring

In 1996, I went to the Auburn Opelika Mall with my cousin Margaret to…honestly, I have no clue what we were doing there – probably getting more holes put in our ears. We went through a ‘more holes in our ears’ phase in college. We’d seen Reality Bites too many times.

I do remember that Billy tagged along and we were just starting to become friends. I saw a fake engagement ring in a vending machine and he loaned me a quarter to buy it. I remarked that when I got proposed to I wanted a ring just like that one – never thinking I would actually be interested in this particular boy at some point and it would probably be an inappropriate thing to say.I kept up with that twenty five cent ring all through college. I lost it right around the time that Billy replaced it with a real ring.

When he proposed to me we were broken up and had been for half a year. Heck, both of us had been on dates with other people the week before. The circumstances surrounding our engagement were so filled with drama and angst that I’ve always been incredibly sentimental about my engagement ring. 

Here I am on New Years Eve in 1999, holding the ring, moments after he proposed.

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Friday night we spent the night in Salina, Kansas on our way to Colorado and I took my rings off to sleep, like I always do. The next morning I didn’t want to put them on because I knew I’d be wearing gloves and I thought they’d bother me. I zipped the rings into the front pocket of my suitcase…which, in retrospect, was a monumentally asinine thing to do...assuming the suitcase would go into the car and not come out again until we hit Colorado.

Unbeknownst to me Billy unloaded my suitcase twice on the road. Once in Colby, Kansas and once around Vail, Colorado.

When he brought our luggage to the room Saturday night the front compartment was unzipped and my engagement ring was gone.

Gone as in gone gone. Gone as in no how, no way will I ever see it again. Gone as in, it’s not just going to turn up. It’s somewhere between this hotel room in Aspen and Kansas. G-O-N-E gone. It wasn’t stolen. It wasn’t misplaced. It was lost.

It’s gone.

And, y’all, I know it was just a ring. In the end it will be dross like everything else but it was MY dross. It was OUR dross. And I feel like a piece of our history is gone.

I feel like a piece of the young couple we were is gone.

I loved that ring.

So…

Dear Whoever Finds My Engagement Ring,

I hope that ring blesses your socks off. I hope you look down in that gas station parking lot and see it sparkling amongst the pebbles and pick it up and wonder where it came from.

I hope you bring it home and show it to people and it becomes a story in your family for years. ‘Remember how I found that diamond ring in the parking lot?’

I hope you bring it to church or the bingo hall or the the coffeehouse and tell people what you found.

I hope you use it to do something magical.

I hope it becomes part of an awesome story.

Because it was my awesome story for fifteen years.

So on this New Year’s Eve in 2014 I remember that New Year’s Eve in 1999 where he dropped down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. And yes, the ring was awesome. And yes, I feel sick about not being able to pass it down to Stella.

To whoever finds my engagement ring

But we all know it’s not a ring that makes a marriage. And, ya know what? We’re still us.

Just with one less ring.

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Let’s Go Get Stitches

Let’s Go Get Stitches

Christmas morning dawned bright and early and we were up with the sun…MOTHER OF PEARL, PAULA! WHY ARE YOU SAYING THAT!  We were NOT up with the sun. That was a big lie. My minions are late sleepers so even on Christmas morning we didn’t get up until late. It sounds way cooler to say everyone was up with the sun but, ya know, the truth and all that. It used to annoy me that they even slept late on Christmas but now I kind of appreciate it.

Christmas Mantle

This year ‘Santa’ brought James a golf driver. Now, James has never played a stroke of golf in his life. Billy doesn’t play and besides for taking golf one summer in Auburn I don’t either.

But… We have a big ole field in front of our house and two boys that play the X-Box way too much so I thought maybe they might like smacking golf balls out into the field.

Come on! Everybody likes the driving range.  After we opened stockings and presents and gorged ourselves on Breakfast Casserole and Monkey Bread we went outside to try out the driver. James swung twice and then Henry got up to try.

IMG_0640 The first swing was fine but the second…

Oh, the second… IMG_0641 Apparently James was standing too close because when Henry swung the club I heard a sickening pop. I called my best friend, who just so happens to be a doctor, and asked her if she wanted to stitch it up.

I know, I know. Is that not the WORST thing in the world to do to a friend?  I mean, it was Christmas morning, for Pete’s sake, and I asked her to leave her family Christmas and come give my kid stitches. Worst friend ever! IMG_0643 Personally I don’t really think it’s fair that she’s a doctor AND has perfect hair. It’s kind of annoying. Seriously who has nice hair on Christmas morning?

When we got back from her office we had this to look forward to.

IMG_0676 Aww…google maps! It’s so cute that you think we could make this drive in twenty one hours! I don’t know…in retrospect it was actually a pretty awesome Christmas.

It’s not every year you get to say ‘Merry Christmas! Now let’s go get stitches!’ IMG_0675 Hank was inconsolable for a few minutes. He ran into the house screaming ‘I’m so stupid! Why did I do that?’ We tried to talk him down from the ledge. It really wasn’t his fault. Just an accident. If it didn’t happen then it would have happened via the stilts we bought or riding his bike etc and so on. It’s all just part of having kids and being a kid.

The stitches weren’t so bad. Ya know, they teach us a good lesson. We get hurt, we get stitched up, we learn something, and life goes on.

So, Merry Christmas! Now let’s all go get stitches.

Grief and Grace.

Grief and Grace.

Remember all that amazing behaving I told you about that my kids did while we were on the Appalachian Trail? Remember how I told you they all got along and didn’t complain and had a fantastic attitude?

Appalachian Trail Newfound Gap

Yeah well, that behavior was soul suckingly absent when we went to get a Christmas tree last Saturday. Like, non existent. Like, at one point I thought ‘these are the most ill behaved children on the face of the earth.’

For real, it was bad. I don’t know. I think part of the problem can be blamed on me. I have REALLY high expectations every year when we go to get our tree. When I was a kid we had mind blowingly awesome Christmases. And I know I’m bragging here but it’s my birthday so…so there. Our Christmases were just crazy good.

When I was little when it came time to get our tree we would just walk out our back door and into the woods where we would find the biggest cedar we could. We’d cut it down and drag it back home where Mom would be waiting for us with hot chocolate. Y’all my parents nailed it at Christmas. And Spring. And Summer. And, of yeah, Fall. My Mom would stand on the back porch and put up this big show about how the tree was too big and it wasn’t going to fit. It was always a time I remember my parents being ‘cute’ together. And no one ever argued or complained…at least, that’s how I remember it. Now, granted I’m the absolute best at always remembering things way better than they were but, regardless, it was a really special time every year.

So, having read that, ya think I might have some unrealistic expectations of how perfect our yearly trip to the tree farm should be? Oh yeah, definitely. Last Saturday was busy but we had just enough time to squeeze in a trip to Trim a Tree in Athens to get a tree.

As we loaded everyone up in the car the complaining started. ‘I want to play the X-Box.’ ‘It’s too cold.’ ‘Can you just leave me here?’ and so on and so forth. Even Stella was complaining.

I knew that my hopes were too high to start with but, for the love, I don’t expect perfection but I would like to be able to go without listening to kids complain about HAVING TO DO SOMETHING FUN!

I got so upset at the little miscreants that I yelled something along the lines of ‘we’re creating happy memories here! Be glad about it!’ in a really MEAN tone.

If you think that’s bad you should have seen Billy! He got so mad he pulled the car over and yelled something so horrible at Henry that I’ve flat out blocked it from my mind! Seriously, I have no clue what he said. We felt bad – we’d gone too far. The kids felt bad – they knew they’d gone too far.

It was just downright ugly.

Billy stopped the car AGAIN and apologized to everyone as so did I. The kids apologized and Stella piped up from the back ‘Daddy, you weren’t using self control.’ Self control is a big word with the preschool set. So, thanks for that Mrs Ford.

So when everything goes wrong you’ve got two options: abandon ship or plug the leak. This time we chose to try and plug the leak. We continued on to Athens with raw and wounded hearts but determined to give each other grace and the gift of new beginnings.

And, ya know what? It worked. I don’t know whether it was the fresh air or the fresh attitudes but when we got there everyone was a whole lot happier.

IMG_7072Maybe not as happy as this big ole dog on his bed of branches but pretty dang happy.

Trim a Tree Farm Athens AlWho knows? Maybe one day the minions will talk about how much fun we used to have going to cut down a tree. Maybe they won’t even remember the car having to be pulled over twice.

I don’t know. Probably the best I can hope for is that they remember that the car WAS pulled over twice. The first for grief and the second for grace.