Are you familiar with that gut-lurching feeling when you realise you’ve lost something precious? A possession, maybe valuable, maybe not. But something important to you, symbolic even.
When I looked at my right hand one autumn day this year, and saw my fourth finger bare, I was devastated. I’d been wearing a gold filigree ring, owned since the 1990s and now filling in for a wedding band that no longer fitted my swollen fingers. I loved it.
How could this have happened? When? Where could it be?
Over the next couple of days, these questions tormented me. I began with two bags of kitchen waste, using gloves of course, examining every vegetable peel and soggy teabag. Why is it always our favourite things that we break or lose? I own some jewelry, most of which stays in a drawer unworn. I grow attached to my earrings though, exasperated when one I like breaks apart in my hand or slithers down a plug hole.
I turned a pair of dishwashing gloves inside out, pleased to have thought of this possible hiding place. Drawers, cupboards, washing machine, shower drain, papers … anywhere my hands had been, where the ring (which had been enlarged, at some expense) might have slid off during those cooler days.
I still have the handwritten note from a Sydney jeweller, saying the design of the ring had been inspired by the calligraphy on a medieval scroll. But no ring.
Eventually I gave up, rationalising that it was just ‘a thing’. Let go, get over it. My hands were bare, and I adjusted.
Last week I purchased a new mobility scooter. Mine dates from early 2014, and though still serving me well, is overdue for replacement. One Saturday afternoon, I decided to clear out the carrier bag in preparation for disposing of the old scooter. Out came supermarket shopping bags, a bunch of heritage walk brochures, hand sanitiser and wipes, an umbrella, and at the very bottom, an assortment of receipts. As I scooped up this bottom-dwelling debris, I caught sight of a glint of gold. And there it is, my lost ring.
I am ecstatic. An unsought gift, a reward, an affirmation! Life is challenging right now, and this gives me a joyful lift.
I share my delight with Ken, though it hardly registers. I wear the ring for a few hours, then take it off and put it away. I’ve become used to bare hands and I’m happy that this symbol of a flowering decade of my life is safe and secure.
I reflect too that for our time on earth, we are simply custodians of all we are given. Whether it is the capricious disappearance of my ring, or the daily scenes of destruction on our screens, I am reminded that what we think of as ours may be as ephemeral as the scarlet flash of a rosella’s breast, foraging in foliage at dawn.