The Wedding Band
For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
I sat with my lips in a tight line, a dark feeling enveloping me. It was better to say nothing than to continue more negativity in the car. It was going to be a long trip.
As we started our trip to Las Vegas to attend my husband’s brother’s wedding, it seemed like everything went wrong. My husband Bob was supposed to pick me up early from work, after I had made arrangements for my replacement for the day, but he did not come. When we met up, the car wasn’t ready and gassed, causing more delays and worries about the distance we needed to make that night. Additional irritations made us both tense. Snippy words were tossed to and fro. I hunched miserable in my seat.
Usually when we traveled together the trips were made short by our companionable chatting, discussing our children and our dreams, making plans, telling stories, and laughing. This time I felt totally out of sorts. Neither of us felt like talking. It was going to be a late night. We just drove in silent determination to get to our stopping point. The air conditioning put an additional chill in the car, but neither of us turned it off.
After several hours, Bob asked me to take a turn driving, and we pulled off the freeway onto a deserted off-ramp under a cold, moonless sky, in the middle of nowhere, to change drivers. It felt literally as dark as pitch as I walked slowly around to the back of the car, letting the cold air seep through me to refresh and wake me. To make sure I was completely alert and ready to drive, I starting vigorously shaking my hands and arms. That was a terrible mistake! Immediately, I felt my wedding band fly off my finger, disappearing into the blackness. A split second later, I could hear it rolling somewhere along the asphalt.
“My ring!” I shouted. “Bob, I lost my ring!” He hurried to where I stood panicking in the darkness. “How could this happen?” I wailed. “It has never been loose. It must be because I was cold from the air conditioning. We have to find it!”
How could we find it in that impenetrable darkness? It seemed impossible. Bob had a small penlight he always carries with him, and I started crisscrossing the road with it, straining my eyes in the darkness and the small beam of light. The light picked up occasional glints in the asphalt, but no ring. I started to despair. How far had the ring rolled?
I concentrated on my memory of the sound of the rolling ring, and tried to follow the direction I thought it traveled. In my mind, each roll of the ring brought back a memory: our last trip together, laughing and talking animatedly; picnics and hikes in the mountains with our children; happily riding our bikes; walking the dogs together; Saturday morning breakfasts, lounging in our pajamas, etc. The thought of another roll of the ring brought memories of hard times: my cancer diagnosis and surgery; his heart attack and recovery — the way we always knew the other would be there — no matter what. That ring was more than gold and diamonds. It was a memory of our lifetime together — over thirty years — a forever commitment! It had to be found!
By now, though, the search began to seem more and more futile. I had a thought. “Bob, turn the car around so the lights are shining across the road more,” I suggested. With this greater light both of us continued searching. This off-ramp road seemed to have grown immense in the darkness. There was so much area where a small ring could have finally stopped rolling.
I wondered if we would have to leave, never to find my ring. Would it be lost forever? I couldn’t picture anyone ever being in such a deserted area to happen upon it. If only it were daylight, we might have a chance, but we were enveloped in darkness.
As I was about to give up hope, Bob, without the flashlight, but standing behind me in the glow of the car’s headlights shouted, “I found it! It was almost in the weeds on the other side of the road!” I ran to him and buried my face against his strong shoulder, and cried, “Oh Bob!” as he slipped the ring on my finger. Great sobs tumbled out of me. We stood there embracing, in the blackest of nights while I cried — not just in relief for finding the ring but with regret for the tense hours previously, and in gratitude for having another chance to remember all that wedding band represented. As we got back in the car, I smiled. It was going to be a great trip after all.