Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some more...

The truth is this, and nothing is ever perfect: when I stepped out into the sunshine, my new ring on my finger, my eye instantly caught a tiny, hairline crack in the emerald.
I had chosen this emerald myself, separate from the ring, and so I recognized the anomaly immediately. Greg had a look, and agreed, the stone was cracked. We turned around, breathing deeply. We had already survived going into the store, signing the Visa slip, walking out. This had taken a great deal of energy. We now had to re-enter the store.
I told the woman that I believed the jeweler had cracked my stone when he set it. She looked at the stone under the light. No, she told me, emeralds are almost always interveined with small lines that appear as fissures, but are just inconsistencies in the stone.
No, I told her. I had chosen this stone myself. I remembered the stone. This was not there. So she took out her more powerful magnifying lens, put the stone, under the scope, and paused.
"You're right," she said. "This stone is cracked".
In only a few days, we were scheduled to depart to my family's ancestral home for three weeks, our ordinary summer soujourn which would pull us away from our home for the first time since our daughter's birth and death. I had been counting on this ring as something to take with me, a piece of memory and evidence that this baby had come and gone. Fortunately, we had told this to the saleswoman (the same nice French woman), how important it was for us to have the rings by that particular date.
"I know", she said, "How important it is for you to have this ring on your vacation. As it happens, we don't have any more emeralds of that size right now, anyhow. Why don't you wear it, while we order some in, and when you return, we shall choose you a new stone."
I was relieved. So relieved.

We left for the lake. I wore the cracked emerald for a month. Through the wear, the crack deepened, and the stone loosened. It terrified me of later breaking my new stone, and how that would feel to have broken it myself. While we were away, Greg and I walked on new earth. We cried different tears, feeling ungrounded away from our home. Liam was conceived. We danced at a wedding the day I took my pregnancy test. My mother saw me laugh.

When we returned home, the jeweler had called. The new stone was a different color, a brighter green, more valuable, and slightly more beautiful. A month later, they swapped the stones, and my finger was bare for a few days. I have not taken the ring off since (except to paint).

The sad thing about the ring, which I don't really think about all that much anymore, is that for some reason I had kind of expected people to comment on it. I suppose this is a little strange, since I am not the type of person who often comments on others' jewelry. But I did harbor a hope that people would say, "What a beautiful emerald," and afford me the opportunity to say, "It's my daughter Charlotte's birthstone." As far as I can recall, nobody has ever noticed the ring. But now, it is enough for me to know that I wear it for her, and always will.

My lovely friend Jen, who often sends me her comments privately, said this:

I have been in that same jewelry store. Before *** and I ever decided we would be moving to this area, we once stayed at a B&B in Florence and *** asked me to marry him. We went to (said jewlery store) that same day to look at engagement rings (we didn't end up getting a ring there, but I remember so well those high ceilings, the hush over everything). There is something about consecrating your love with a ring, the endless circle symbolizing eternal love and faithfulness. The circumstances that led us both to that jewelry store were so vastly different, it's so jarring and sad.

I loved those words so much, and they meant a lot because it was, in a way, somebody recognizing the exact thing I was trying to accomplish with the symbol of the ring. So thanks, Jen. Now your comments aren't private anymore, but I'm sure everyone will appreciate your thoughtfulness. (Incidentally, Jen and I met through this blog... and we only live about 4 miles away from each other. Isn't that cool? There seems something almost eerie about it... it appeals to me. She has a most beautiful, fresh baby daughter who makes me happy.)


laura said...

carol, i could probably tell you this when i see you in the morning, but it seems important to tell you now.
a few days ago, maybe at school or at liams' birthday, i noticed your ring. and i thought to myself, "have i ever seen that before?"....because i am usually the type of person who notices jewelry and comments on it. but the thing is, when i noticed your ring, my second immediate thought was, "that is charlotte's birthstone", which made my first thought even more could i have not seen this ring before?

maybe i have and i stored it away somewhere, but since your post yesterday i have been thinking of it.
and i am glad that you told the story, as sad and beautiful as it is.

and i have lots of other thoughts about your writing, which i am eager to share in person.
you are a beautiful writer.
love, laura

Jen said...

I think I will try to post my thoughts more in the Comments section... I know, I get all turtle-y sometimes about putting my thoughts out there. But I'm glad, Carol, that you liked what I had to say. And I think this blog is a treasure. You are so good at writing about intertwined love and pain and appreciation and suffering and happiness.

The next time we meet, I really want to see your ring close up.