A few months ago I lost my wedding ring. I was in IKEA of all places, a massive ring-eating, suck-hole of a building full of devious nooks and jewellery kicking feet. As soon as I felt the ring’s absence, I knew I wouldn’t see it again.
As a rule I’m not precious when it comes to belongings. Working in the funeral industry soon teaches you that other things are so much more important, but this felt different.
Jim and I had planned our wedding on a budget, but the one thing we decided we should spend money on was our rings. We planned to wear them for the rest of our lives, so they had to be right.
The rings were crafted by James Newman, an up and coming designer in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter who we could never afford to buy from today. I’ll never forget the day we went to his workshop and watched as he poured diamonds into his hand as if they were buttons. The rings he made for us were beautiful and unusual, and since the day we exchanged them we have secretly clinked them together for reassurance, a code for ‘everything will be alright because we have each other’. Clink clink.
And then I went and lost it.
My little boy was with me. He’s four and a sensitive, gentle soul who feels things very deeply. He could see I was upset and on the way home in the car he asked me if my heart was still sad because I had lost my ring.
My little boy has a toy owl that he loves more than his parents. She’s called Hooty, or if you want to be formal, Hooty McOwlface. This is her on the left:
Hooty goes everywhere with our son. We live in constant fear that she is going to be left somewhere and lost forever, so earlier that day I’d decided to take a risk, buy an identical Hooty and do a surreptitious swap in the dim light of bedtime.
That evening, I lurked nervously by his bedroom door. There was a pause, a significant one, and then he said with quiet urgency, “Mummy. It’s a different Hooty. Her feet are different… look!”
My heart sank. I’d never thought to check Hooty the Second’s stupid owl feet and now my son was definitely going to be scarred for life. I went to touch my wedding ring with my thumb but it wasn’t there.
And then my boy said one of the wisest and sweetest things I’ve ever heard. He said, “Her voice is still the same though,” and then proceeded to make little high pitched hoo hoo hoot sounds before getting under the covers to wait for his story. And that was the end of the matter.
Today it is eleven years since Jim and I became husband and wife – our ‘steel’ anniversary. I bought him a pair of steel tweezers to pull out ear hairs, which I was unable to give him because they weren’t delivered on time.
He is a much better husband than I am a wife, so when I went downstairs to make a cup of tea I found a card and a small parcel next to the kettle. I opened the gift and inside was a plain steel band that he assures me cost less than five pounds.
My son, still concerned about the sadness of my heart, was instantly very pleased. I held out my left hand and he put the ring on my finger, on the one that still has a dent in the fleshy part where something precious should be. It fits perfectly, and I declare before all of you now that even when my finger turns green I shall wear this cheap steel ring with pride. And it’s all because of the simple, beautiful logic of a small child.
Turns out it still has the same voice, you see. Clink Clink.