Size Four Engagement Ring

by | Dec 4, 2010 | 3 comments

In her crib now, talking to herself- I hear Audrey saying, “He doesn’t live in Austraaaalia mahhmmy, he lives in heaven with Gaaaaahhhd.”

We had a pretty full day- went to a new music class Audrey started at a play space where she also played for a while.

In the mail, I received the 199 photos I had made of Audrey and Dan since she was born.  I sat looking through them on the floor while she danced around.  I tried to pick eighty for the little leather album I’m making her.

As I slide the photos of Audrey smiling and Dan hugging or kissing her into the clear plastic sleeves, I wonder, when they didn’t have photographs- what was it like when someone died?  Was death more real than it is now?  Was it easier to comprehend because there was no visual reminder- the person was literally “gone.”  Does technology clutter death in its purest form?  Or was it harder to connect the new reality death brings with the old life because you had no remembrances of it.  At any rate, it certainly must have been different.

From the moment she wakes up, Audrey doesn’t stop talking, Dan.  This morning when she woke up, the first words out of her mouth were, “You had a good honeymoon mahhmy.”  Wonder where that came from.

At breakfast she points at the continents on the wall map by our table and tells me she’s going to drive me to Africa to live there.  At dinner she said, “You’re a good cooker mah mmee” Before putting her to sleep, she told me, “Maahmmy, I like your head and your eyes mahhmy.”

But also, she runs up to your photo a lot and shows you things she does throughout the day.  I think she really misses that- because while you were still here, I would so often say, “Wow- look at that- go show appa!” or “We’ll show appa when he comes home!”

At some point this afternoon, I was in the kitchen and hear her saying, “Can you hear me apppa?  Can you hear me appaaa?” while talking to your photo.  I weep.

Sometimes I hear myself talking about you in the past tense and I still think it sounds absolutely ridiculous.  I think about how when you first have a baby and they ask you her name at the Dr.’s office, something about it feels false too- because you’ve literally chosen the name and now you’re calling this baby by it.

My wedding ring is bothering me lately because of the cold weather and some lost weight, it’s very loose and constantly moving around.  Do you remember how many times I got it resized when you gave it to me Dan?  I had emailed you photos of the 30’s style ring I wanted before we got engaged- probably years before since we dated for five long years.  You told me you searched through hundreds of photos in the store before choosing mine.  When you gave it to me, it was very big, falling off my finger.  So I took it back to Mrs. Sung- the Korean mother of a friend whom you bought it from on 48th Street in the Diamond District.  She sized it down, but I was disappointed wearing it after picking it up because it still felt too big to me.  “Look?  Isn’t it too big?” I’d ask you as I wildly shook my hand so that it would fall off.  So she put a special prong on and then it was too tight.  Again, I went back.  Then she added two little balls on either side.  So it’s a size four with those two little balls- I have very small fingers.  Then yet again, I had to bring it back because I held it up to my ear and shook it and could hear a faint jingle- like something was loose…the diamond.

After we got married, you went back to her a few times to buy me special gifts- the last one was a strand of pearls.

I last saw Mrs. Sung at the receiving line at your wake Dan.  I haven’t seen her in a few years, but I recognized her immediately and we cried together.

I am very sad.

People are always saying, “Let me know if you need anything, really.”  And I smile and say, “OK,” but I don’t really mean it.  “Um sure- can you come sit and cry with me tomorrow night?  I’m tired of doing it alone.”  I am very grateful, but it’s not easy feeling so needy.  I feel like such a bother all the time so I try to space out who I call or chat with online.  I know hearing from me is certainly not going to brighten up anyone’s day.  But the truth is, it is very lonely- and very hard and I realize the grief is mine alone to carry.  No one can do it for me.  I try to think about what I need- since people keep asking me that- but there’s not really an answer.   I realize that the only time people hugged me and cried with me was at the funeral.  I still cry multiple times every single day, but with every passing day it becomes more uncomfortable to cry in front of others.  It feels like they just can’t handle it.

I think about suffering- and the randomness of it today.  I think about all of the nasty people who will live to a ripe old age.  I think about how all the grief books point to all the “growth” I can experience and even Elisabeth Kubler-Ross saying that before she died she had to learn a few more things.  I don’t think I buy this line of thought- does that mean Dan was done learning?  That he had learned everything he needed to know?  Does that mean because I am still here I have so much more to learn and grow?  And what about the bitter, mean people of the world who will not grow but will just keep living out their days here- treating the rest of us like crap.  That doesn’t seem fair at all.

I prefer to stay away from this formulaic reasoning and I prefer to say we just don’t know why someone is not here and someone is.

I am tired now…


December 4, 2010


  1. Claire

    Your writing about your grief is the clearest and most honest of any writing I have read on experiencing grief and going through the terrible days. Thank you for saying what I was never able to articulate and by doing so making me feel that I am not so alone.

  2. Christy

    I will come and cry with you anytime. Your writing is a gift to so many people and I know you are writing for you, but how you touch others continually amazes me. Love you!

  3. Katie

    I know I am not with you right now physically, but right now I am crying for you, for the loss of your husband and for the loss of Audrey's father.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like…

List-making in a Dark Time

List-making in a Dark Time

For any other list-makers out there, I published this on HerStories yesterday.""In this time of quarantine, my lists are offering me space outside of the walls of my home, a way of making sense of chaos, a self-imposed structure on structure-less days, and even a way...

Simple Things

Simple Things

"In our deepest self we keep living with the illusion that we will always be the same." Henri Nowen "It's really very simple," my late spiritual director, Gladys, once said to me. She was talking about how she lived each day, waking up, having a written conversation...

Continuous Living

Continuous Living

"Anxiety turns us toward courage, because the other alternative is despair." Paul Tillich I've claimed "seasonal affective disorder" for years, and that may be so, but I'm starting to realize it's not only summer to fall that is hard for me. It's winter to spring, and...