Even though I have written about my cut-off, repaired, restored and refurbished wedding ring each morning of this week, I ask you to bear with me for one final episode.
In spite of its brighter than new brilliance, I have worn the ring only sporadically since its restoration. When I tried wearing it as a pinkie ring on my left hand, that finger began to swell as well. As it turned out, small nodules had formed on the primary tendons of both my ring finger and little finger of my left hand. That was what had caused the tightness that caused the swelling that had led to having to cut the wedding band off my finger over a year ago.
As a result of the nodule, my pinkie is now as thick as my ring finger was thirty years ago. So, I wore the ring a few times on the little finger of my right hand. It was slightly loose but snug enough that it wouldn’t just sling off.
Last Monday was one of those sporadics. As I finished dressing for work, I decided to wear the wedding ring and the diamond ring Randa had given me fifteen years ago. Even though I’m not much of a jewelry guy and I know a man’s pinkie isn’t the designated host for a wedding band, I thought the rings looked nice on my hand.
At noon, as I was leaving the hospital where I work to head home for lunch, I felt for the wedding ring and noticed it was gone. The other ring was still there on my ring finger but my pinkie was bare. I headed right back toward the office and looked in the sink where I’d washed my hands earlier that morning. Nothing there.
I stepped back out into the main office area and queried our administrative assistant. I think Shawna sensed something was amiss before I even asked her, “Has anyone turned in a wedding ring they found in the bathroom sink?” She looked at me quizzically and responded, “Nooo…”
At first I thought, “Which one of the people that work here would find a ring and not turn it in?” Almost as quickly, I realized the answer was “No one.”
A few minutes later, after mulling things over, I realized I’d probably accidentally pulled the ring off when I was drying my hands. “It’s probably in the trash can inside that wad of paper towels I used to dry my hands.” I happily went back into the bathroom to start digging through the trash can.
It had just been emptied.
In less than half a minute, I found one of the housekeeping staff and asked her if she knew who’d emptied the trash from that bathroom. “Oh, that would be Ginger.” I explained that I was pretty sure my wedding ring was in that trash and she immediately took off down the hall to find Ginger.
Within a couple of minutes they were both back. “I already put that bag into the dumpster just a while ago,” Ginger explained. I asked to borrow a couple of disposable gloves. “I’m going to go dig through some trash,” I vowed, “but I don’t expect you to help do that. This is on me, totally.”
They ignored that and so the three of us headed down the hall to the service door while I pulled the thin blue gloves onto my hands.
As soon as we opened the door, we saw the fifteen-foot-long dumpster in a near vertical position, hitched to the back of the garbage truck. I heard the whirring, grinding sound of fully engaged hydraulics as the compactor pressed the last bit of mess from the dumpster into the load of trash inside the back of the truck. I felt my whole body slump in disappointment.
After all I’d been through wearing that ring. All the work that had gone into repairing and restoring it. All the years of reminded and remembered promises. Having just gotten the ring back into wearable condition and now having lost it because of my own lack of attention.
I thought—for only the briefest instant—about stopping the guys and asking them if I could dig around in the back of their truck for a few hours. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would have spent the day in our dumpster but I wasn’t willing to ask them to let me unpack the back of their truck and completely disrupt their afternoon. Maybe they would have happily done that and helped me look for the ring. Maybe, even they had, we never would have found it.
As I stared at the scene, barely believing the timing, I thought of Solomon’s advice from a few thousand years ago: “There is a time to search and a time to give up searching.”
Far better to lose the ring than the relationship that gave the ring such significance. To keep that from happening, I’d search through the entire landfill.