A Circle of Love: My Priceless Wedding Ring

Wedding day and wedding ring, 1968

New ring on my wedding day, 1968

“It’s gone,” I cried out with tears sprinting down my cheeks. Vic was building a fire at the campground where we planned to stay that night.

“What’s gone?” he said.

“My wedding ring,” I sobbed. “It’s not on my hand.”

“When did you last see it?” he asked in problem-solver mode.

“At the rest stop this morning near Omaha. I took it off when we did yoga.” Omaha was 450 miles away, impossibly far for two people in a hurry to get to California. “I must have left it on the blanket we spread on the grass.”

Vic pulled our yoga blanket out of the Ford station wagon and shook it. No ring.

Ring on the hand that held my babies, 1974

Ring on the hand that held our babies, 1974

We’d been married fifteen months. We paid $8 for the ring at a tiny import shop on Seneca Street in Ithaca. It was silver with rough raised relief Hebrew letters. The saleswoman translated them: “I am his beloved and he is mine.” It was not a proper gold wedding band and we were not Jewish, but it said everything.

We had stopped to do yoga early that morning and then pushed hard to get across the state of Nebraska by sunset. We emptied the car. No ring. I wept in resignation.

“We’ll go get it,” Vic said.

“It’s too far,” I said. “We need to sleep.”

“No, we’ll go get it.”

“Now? Really?”

“Yeah, now,” he said. We doused the fire and repacked the car.

Ring on the hand that held puppy Leo, 1995

Ring on the hand that held puppy Leo, 1995

Vic drove east through the night on Route 80. He reached over, felt my empty ring finger, and smiled between yawns. My heart ached with love and hope. I imagined the spot where we’d laid our blanket.

We arrived at the Welcome to Nebraska rest stop at 5 a.m. The eastern horizon was tinged by dawn, but it was still dark. We used flashlights to explore the area where we’d been that morning. Dew drops sparkled in the light beam, but no ring. We crawled, ran our hands through the grass, and felt for something hard.

“I’m sorry, E,” Vic said hugging me.

“It’s OK,” I said, angry at myself and grateful for his effort.

“I’ll look in the car again,” he said, although we’d already searched every corner with flashlights. He opened the rear of the station wagon.

“Come here, E,” he said. I thought he wanted me to help unpack the car again, but I knew it was hopeless. Instead, he pointed at a little pocket where the rear door latched into metal above the bumper.

“Look at that.”

My watercolor of my wedding ring after Vic's death, 2008

Watercolor soon after Vic’s death, 2008

I saw a glint of silver. My ring had been riding with us all the way, caught in the rear door latch. I promise I didn’t make this up: the sun rose in the East and bathed us in warm light as Vic slipped the ring on my left hand.

A few years after Vic’s death, I rarely wore my wedding ring. I needed to make space between Vic and me, big enough to walk into my new life.

The ring rests on my altar now, near a photo of Vic. I sometimes slip it on my finger and twirl it around to remember I’m still encircled by our love.


What does a ring or another symbol of love mean to you? For another piece about my young life with Vic, you’ll enjoy My Hippie Wedding. You might also enjoy another perspective on wedding rings in Making Promises: What Does a Wedding Ring Represent? a Huffington Post blog by a widower Eric W.

  1. Elaine your stories never cease to raise a few goosebumps on my skin. What a beautiful tale, especially about the inscription of the ring and its sentimental value which a price could never be put on. A true testament to the beauty of your relationship with your beloved husband. xo


    • Thank you, Debby. I love that ring and loved being married to Vic. It took a lot of on and off to leave it off, and I can still wear it whenever I want. I wanted to embrace my new life and find a new identity on my own. Some women always wear their wedding rings or wear them on a gold chain or bury them with their husbands. Anything goes in these situations. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.
      Warmly, Elaine

  2. Wow, Elaine. I found a ring of my daughter ‘s after she died. A ring, an unbroken circle, symbolizes infinity and undying love in many cultures. But this ring was one of those adjustable bands where the ends don’t meet. As soon as I put it on I knew it would snag on something someday and fall off. I decided to wear it anyway and not freak out when it disappeared. I felt I could survive the loss of my daughter’s ring since I survived the loss of my daughter. It’s still on my right pinkie finger. And ring or ring less, I will carry my daughter with me always.

    • Yes, you will. And I have my ring right where I need it, anytime I want it. For now, I’m practicing standing solo. Thanks, Robin.

  3. Story held me rapt. Love is there–sometimes even when you can’t see it or think you may have lost it.

    • True, Kirsten. His willingness to travel 450 miles in the night for a $8 ring when he hated wearing jewelry himself told me everything I needed to know about my new husband.

  4. I remember you commenting when I wrote about my wedding ring, Paul’s ring and Tiven’s heart locket. The value is so much more than merely monetary. I now wear my wedding ring on my right ring finger and Paul’s is still on my left thumb. Kevin seems fine with that. Besides, my mom said I can wear them forever if I want to 🙂 I’m not sure when or if I will chose to lay them aside…
    Beautiful post and I will pass it on.

    • Thank you, Patti. I perk up when a wedding ring is mentioned because my own was so significant in its quirky hippy way. Your mom is a wise woman. And Kevin is a good man if he’s willing to allow your relationship with Paul to be where it is. I appreciate your shares and your encouragement. Warmly, Elaine

  5. Beautiful love story! Thank you Elaine for writing it and Patti for sharing it with me.

  6. (((Elaine))) … what a moving piece. Based on what I know of it, the two of you had a very rare and incredibly beautiful union. I’m thankful for your willingness to share your life with all of us – your words never fail to make me think – and even more so, to make me FEEL. I know that Vic is very proud of the woman you are today. xoxox


    • Our relationship had a feisty side, too. As I’ve written other places, Vic called me a “worthy adversary.” We began our marriage doing encounter groups, Gestalt therapy, and other psychological experiments in 1968 in California. Those experiences taught us to be honest and say the good and the hard things. We didn’t hide or hold grudges, at least not for long. Deep contact right to the end. I’m grateful. I also know I’m developing unused parts of myself as I learn to go it alone.
      Thank you for your wonderful essential work, Ann.

  7. Loved this story. Mine is about to publish on “Plain and Fancy Girl” today–actually in a few hours. What a guy, that Vic, who would drive for hours to placate the love of his life.

    • Thanks, Marian. I’m curious to see if our stories relate. You hint that they do. I’ll check later today. Vic was good at soothing my ruffled feathers, and I was good at cooking his favorite Italian foods. Partnership is a sweet thing.

  8. Elaine, your stories always touch my soul in some way. What a lovely story and yes, it said all you needed to know about Vic.

    I removed Bill’s ring from his swollen finger about 3 days before he died and I put it on my left hand with my own, tucked behind mine so it would not fall off. It is still there.

    I love the pictures you chose for this piece, they say so much about your life together. The image of the two of you on your hands and knees in the dark searching for that ring is a treasure.

    • That’s a photo I wish I had taken, Mary, but it was dark and I wasn’t thinking photos. I was focused on ring. I looked through the old photo albums for photos showing my hands. Some were way out of focus, partly because I made a close-up out of a larger photo. I love these words from the Song of Solomon. There are other translations, but this is the first I heard and it stays with me. Thanks for the story about your rings. Vic didn’t wear a wedding ring, so I didn’t have his to keep. With gratitude, Elaine

  9. A beautiful story of your dedication to each other, symbolized by the ring.

    When my mother died, I wore her wedding ring on a chain around my neck for a while to remember her. I’m still wearing my wedding ring almost 3 years after Adrian died. I understand your need to make a space. I don’t know when or if that moment might come for me.

    • Thanks for your response, Lynne. I didn’t know I would one day remove my ring. My ring doesn’t look like a wedding ring, so it wasn’t about other’s perception of my marital status. It was about my perception. At some point it felt right to stop wearing it. Anything goes. I could change my mind tomorrow. I often slip the ring on and could end up leaving it on. When I wore it for a week during the time close to my son’s wedding, it felt natural. More mysteries in our state of unmarried and married, unattached and attached.

      • Elaine, I had no idea you were responding to my comments–didn’t see that little box to check! 😉

        Thank you for letting me know about it. I have responded to every one of your comments on my blog, but thought you were automatically being notified about it. Typepad (my blog platform) does not seem to offer a way to add the box about getting email notification. Good to be aware of this, though.


        • You might ask the help line at Typepad. Every blog platform I know has this option, but I don’t know that much. There are often add-ins or widgets to make these things happen. My web folks add widgets when I need them. Ask Typepad tech support. I’m sure they’ll know what a notification box is and be able to help you.

  10. Your stories are a window into your soul, dear Elaine ~ stunning, pure and simply beautiful. ♥

  11. What a wonderful story. When my Mom died, Dad gave me her rings. I wear them on her birthday, her death day, Mother’s Day, and whenever else I feel the urge.

    • I’m so glad you have them, Barb. I imagine her rings encircle you with her love and help you get through the sad days. A whole mother-child love story in two little sentences. Thank you.

  12. Beautifully written as all your posts are. I love getting to know you and your Vic through your stories. I also love the pictures you included – the ordinary things you did with your hands while wearing an extraordinary ring! Thanks for sharing

    • I also loved finding the ordinary life of my ringed hand as I searched through photo albums for pictures showing the wedding ring. Thanks for your encouraging words and for taking time to read and respond. And thank you even more for the good work you do to help others.

  13. Beautiful story. An $8 ring that symbolizes eternal love and the eternal quest to bring the beloved joy. It is still working its magic.

  14. Dear Elaine,

    Your words NEVER disappoint. This essay is as priceless as your wedding band and Vic himself!

    Just shared to FB.

    Your friend and fan,


    • Thank you, Kathleen. You are my friend and also my supporter. I appreciate your generosity. Hope all continues to go well with your husband’s healing and no more hospitals for a long, long time.

  15. So very beautiful, Elaine. As always, your words move me to the depths of my soul. I don’t have those kinds of memories, but I can have them all vicariously simply by reading your stories, and for that, I am truly grateful. Much love to you. Joy

    • Thank you, Joy, and thanks for sharing my blog. I married a romantic, empathetic Italian. (Vic’s father had changed his name from DiFonzo to Mansfield.) I love sharing my romance with my husband but don’t want to make things sound too perfect in these small scenes from a life. Nothing is perfect and we had rough spots like everyone does, but when I look back, I mostly remember love. I appreciate your encouragement and support.
      With love,

  16. so beautiful Elaine, thank you …filled with so much. May the ring and its story continue to inspire you –

    • Thank you, Susan. The ring is now on my altar as a bracelet for a dancing Ganesh, Patron of Writers and New Beginnings. The statue was once Vic’s, but now I enjoy his elephant god collection.

  17. My wife lost her ring over a bridge 13 months after we were married. It fell into the creek below. Because it was autumn, the creek was at a low level. I rushed down the slope to the creek while she shed tears. I searched in the water hoping to catch a glimpse of gold. I found it, climbed up the slope, and placed it back on her finger. Three days later, both of our rings were resized. We are still wearing our rings after 48 years together. Thank you for your story, Elaine.

    • And thank you for your story and comment, Robert. I love knowing you’re still wearing those rings and still enjoying a long marriage with the woman who loves you and her wedding ring. Blessings all around.

  18. Truth is BETTER than fiction. Facebook brought me this sweet story today.

    I lost my engagement diamond 4-5 years after we were married. I took my ring off to moisturize my hands, so says my foggy memory. I imagine little daughter put the ring on her finger after I left the bedroom. I remember hearing the toilet flush when she went to the bathroom. We assumed the worst.

    The “Rock” dug up the front lawn hoping to find the ring caught in the trap leading from our house to the sewer line. Alas, it was too late. The wedding ring is intact, thank goodness! I never got a replacement ring.

    I like thinking of your ring resting on your altar. Shine on the shrine?

    • Marian, so sweet to hear your story with a happy ending of a long marriage but an unhappy or at least unknown ending to the ring. I’ll look forward to reading the details of that love and lost story on your blog in the future. You have an illustrator of the story since you may not have photos. Your marriage and creative collaboration is a beautiful thing to watch all the way from western New York. I know you’re over-the-top busy getting your book ready to meet the world, so thanks for taking time to comment.

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