We chose them in December, the year before we got married. They were sitting inside the warm store, such a comfort contrasting with the cold outside, hidden from the spring-winter cusp weather, alone, silver and smooth, waiting to mean something.
They were inside the drawer by the bookcase in the living room, catching light a few times a week when we needed a pen or a scissor or a bookmarker, hearing glimpses of the sounds of our then-new house: your singing along to that old broken radio that only had one station, the stove’s blip telling us our special lasagna was ready, that soap opera you never admitted to love watching.
Then they were in your little cousin’s hand, down the aisle, the center of attention, the main attraction. They listened to our vows, as I promised to always read your favorite books, to not burn the lasagna anymore, to let you sleep late on Sundays, to not get so drunk on wine you have to carry me home, to never forget to kiss goodnight, to loving you for life. They listened to you promise to buy a new radio, to wash the dishes when I was tired, to tell me you love me even when you wanted to sleep, to not be mad if I forgot our anniversary, to always carry me home.
They watched us hug and thank our relatives and friends, drink and kiss, dance and kiss more; they were the single witnesses to our wedding night.
It was there when you tried to fix the radio, when it broke again and when you finally got a new one; when you burned your hand because I left the oven on too long, when I turned all the pages to your favorite books, when you put my hair behind my years to kiss me when I got home, when you held my hair as I threw up wine after you carried me home. They watched, each from one edge of the sink, you washing and me drying, every single night after dinner. They met again daily, when you held my hand. They watched us keep our vows and break them, too. They were there through the years, as the only vow that mattered was kept.
It was there when I held a pregnancy test, and another, and another, until I was sure. They were there when I grabbed your hand and asked you to sit down, when you hugged me out of explosive happiness, when I dried your tears. It hung on my necklace for a few months because it didn’t fit my fingers, and it watched me push and push and scream. It was there when you first held our daughter, when she first grabbed your finger and your eyes were filled with tears. Through the sleepless nights holding bottles or reading children’s books, the glue and crayons midst school projects, the first days of classes when our hands were let go of and all the firsts that came after that.
They were there the last time I held your hand, after the movie that Sunday night. It was there as you stroke my hair before you slept, and as I handed you your glasses before you went to work in the morning.
Then it was in the car, holding the wheels, and in the ambulance, and in the hospital, and in the morgue. Then it was a few feet under, buried with you, so far from its other half.
Mine was still there, through getting casseroles and flowers, making a bed just for one, giving your clothes away. It was there through my breaking, and through my being glued back together.
From inside the glass at a jewelry store in cold December, waiting to mean something, to under the earth, a reminder of what I lost. And of what I was lucky to have.
They meant good night kisses, special lasagna, fixed radios, favorite books. They meant the magic of being in love and young, dreaming of a beautiful life, and the unremarkable magic of growing up together to see it, far more beautiful than anyone can dream.
Two wedding rings, in a jewelery store, waiting to mean something.
I’m still keeping the vow that mattered.
I love you just as much as I did that cold December day.