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 running my mouth 

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  • Drew Dotson

A nice ring to it

As the one-year anniversary of Ramón’s death approached, I went to a jeweler to get my engagement and wedding rings resized — an idea I’d been marinating on all year. I decided I’d like to wear them on my right hand, but they were a smidge too small to be worn comfortably. The rings will always be a symbol of our everlasting love. However, over the months since Ramón died, the rings have been the source of way too many emotions other than love.


Very soon after Ramón’s death, some friends and I went to an outdoor show. We got to chatting with a small group of socially distanced people, and my gym attire apparently piqued a guy’s interest. After talking for a bit, he casually asked, “Are you married? I noticed you’re wearing a ring.” That ostensibly simple question sent my mind into a tailspin. I had never stopped to ponder the symbolism of the rings when one party was no longer alive. ‘Am I still married?’ I thought to myself. ‘Will I always be married? Oh my gosh. Am I single? WHAT AM I?’


While checking in at the doctor’s office, the rings glistened in the fluorescent lighting. “That is a beautiful ring,” the attendant declared. “Thank you,” I said, while trying my hardest not to explain the last two years of my life in detail. Then of course there were the recurring moments when I looked down at my hand and felt grateful. But, accompanying the gratitude was sadness, knowing that Ramón’s ring had been returned to its original box, housed in my dresser with no future plans.


On my way to pick up my newly sized rings, I considered playing one of our songs. I decided against it, thinking it might make me sad when, in actuality, I was somewhat excited for this milestone. I loved the thought of wearing my rings as often as I pleased without getting caught up in the way things used to be. ‘Maybe I’ll play a song on the way home,’ I decided.


When I went into the jewelry store and slid the rings onto my right hand, it felt like I was home again. A newfound confidence washed over me, knowing I’d modified the rings just as I’d revised my life plans. The rings still embodied our eternal love, but now they also represented potential. I liberated myself from the heaviness of what the rings once meant and instead adjusted to the way things are. Ramón will always be my right-hand man, and the rings will guide me as I strive to wring this life dry.


By the time I got in the car to head home, I forgot about playing a song because I was so amped up from living on the edge. I hadn’t paid to park in the lot because it seemed fundamentally wrong to pay to be there for five minutes while picking up resized rings because my husband died. (This is my rationalization for anything I want to do, by the way. As I contemplate whether I should have Sour Patch Kids for breakfast, I think to myself, ‘Yes, I should. My husband died.’)


As I neared home, it struck me that I’d forgotten to play a song, but I knew I shouldn’t fumble with my phone while driving (I pick and choose when to be lawful). When I turned onto my street, I heard familiar notes on the radio. My jaw dropped, sincerely, as I realized what song was playing. It was one of our first songs — “Crazy Girl” by Eli Young Band, released in 2011. Ramón didn’t care for it much, but he shared in my excitement by default because that’s what he did. As I pulled up to my house, I sat in the car listening to the rest of this decade-old song, feeling as though things were oddly as they should be.


I’ve always been fascinated by synchronicity — about those things that are eerily coincidental and difficult to justify. As I ventured into Grieftown, these moments occurred with more frequency. I can choose to think that everything around me is happening randomly with no rhyme or reason. Alternatively, I can choose to believe that even the little things have significance — that they are deliberately orchestrated to bring me joy. Joy is my preference.


Last week I enjoyed my first real vacation in years. Ramón and I had last been to this beach in 2018, when he demonstrated just how awful he was at finding shark teeth. Everyone else found them with regularity, but Ramón simply couldn’t get the hang of it. As he became more defeated, we decided to plant one right by his beach chair; it still didn’t catch his eye. Finally, I placed it on top of his flip flop, knowing he couldn’t possibly miss it. Excitement washed over him as he found it, yet the enthusiasm drained from his face mid-celebration as he realized he’d been set up. Bless his sweet soul.


The first day at the beach last week, I strolled around looking for shark teeth. Normally quite adept at finding them, I struggled to see anything even remotely resembling one. My rings caught some of the sun’s rays and I playfully thought to myself, ‘Help me out here, right-hand man. I know you’re good at this.’ Instantaneously I looked down, and one was right by my foot — synchronicity.



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