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Avril Brown Presents:

Who can understand how this feels?

I recently lost my ring, one of my most precious possessions. It is a beautiful silver ring, the top part shaped like a leaf which holds a blue star sapphire stone, flanked by two teeny tiny chips of diamond. When viewed in direct light a small white star will appear on the face of the stone. Though not tipping the scales in terms of monetary value, it has overwhelming sentimental value. It slipped off my finger so smoothly I didn’t even realize it was missing until I got back to my apartment. My very favorite and most personal piece of jewelry has been swallowed by the Chicago city streets.

‘It’s just a ring’ most people would say. Yes, I am fully aware of that cold fact. But this particular ring meant something to me. It is a link between generations, one I intended to keep and pass on to preserve said link. My grandparents on my mother’s side once owned a shop called Garfield’s (after their last name; not because of the fat orange cat) which sold various gift items, including jewelry. They gave this ring to my mother when she graduated grammar school as a present for a job well done, as well as to stifle any complaints she had about my aunt receiving a ring for completing high school.

At some point the ring band itself had become a bit squashed, so when my mother gave it to me when I was about seven years old it fit my pinky perfectly. I was determined to keep this ring forever and ever, but I had already lost a piece of jewelry because I was so determined not to lose it I took moronic precautions (I had a very pretty tennis bracelet I put in my lunch sack so it wouldn’t get messy or fall off while I was eating, and then accidentally threw it away with the otherwise empty brown bag. Genius move, that). Not surprisingly, one day my ring seemingly disappeared.

It was lost for years, though never fully gone from my thoughts. Every once in awhile, a fever would overtake me and I would tear my room apart looking for it. I knew, deep down inside, I knew that it was still nearby. One day during my freshman or sophomore year in high school my sister reached into a basket stacked high with clean laundry, plucked this ring from the top of the pile and asked me if it belonged to me.

Needless to say, I flipped the fuck out.

I must’ve put it in my pocket for ‘safe-keeping,’ and when the pants went through the laundry it fell out and got stuck in the dryer, which held it hostage for approximately four or five years before finally spitting it back out. Absolutely elated, I showed it to my mother who took it to the jeweler to have it polished and un-warped so it fit my current pinky size. Ever since then it has not left my sight, whether on my hand or in a box on my bedside table.

Until now.

I was adamant this ring would survive with me. I was given a second chance to hold onto this beautiful piece of precious metal and stone, and I was resolved not to fuck it up. It would stay on my hand until ideally the day arrived when I would have a daughter or niece to give it to, and to tell its unlikely history. And now that day will never come.

It was an accident. My ring has always fit snuggly on my finger, its presence a familiar comfort at all times, which is why I don’t understand how I did not notice its absence until it was too late. The weather was brisk thus shrinking the diameter of my fingers and making it easier for a once-snug ring to slip off into the abyss, but I still feel like screaming to the sky and begging my recently departed Nana for forgiveness. My mother (knock on wood) is still with me and will be for years to come, and although I know on some level she feels my pain she doesn’t put such an inordinate amount of emotional stock into inanimate objects as I.

Logically, as a scientist, I understand it was simply metal and stone. Emotionally, as a person capable of extreme passions, it was much more than that. It was in my Nana’s hands, full of love and hope as she handed it to my mother, who gave it to me with identical feelings. And I had truly believed I would eventually do the same with my own progeny. I didn’t just lose a ring, I lost a tangible piece of family legacy, which has carved its way into my soul like few objects can.

Robin Hobb is an amazingly talented fantasy author who wrote the Farseer Trilogy, among many other books, and she touched on this type of pain. The main character in the Farseer books is young FitzChivalry, the bastard son of a prince who was taken in by the King and trained as an assassin. When the King officially acknowledged Fitz as blood family, he gave him a small ruby brooch as token of the young man’s genetic history and fealty. In one of the books Fitz is attacked and barely escapes with his life, therefore it is not until he is well clear of the home to which he can never return to that he realizes his attacker had taken his cloak, with the brooch still attached. His wolf companion, to whom he is telepathically connected to, whines with empathic pain and asks Fitz what it is that hurts so. Is it a thorn in his paw? The young man cannot fully explain in accurate detail why the loss of an object, something devoid of life and feelings, can have such an impact upon his emotional psyche.

Some people get it, and some people don’t. The fact remains that nothing, save the return of my ring, will make me feel better about this. Dare I say it, but I feel more horrible than if I had lost my entire comic collection, or all of my movies. This isn’t an object I can replace and/or replicate even if I had more money than Bill Gates, and even if I could I believe on some level that personal objects, especially inherited ones, have their own energy. Without revealing my mother’s age (because I hope to live a bit longer) my ring has been in existence for several decades and has only known the hand of my maternal relatives. You cannot buy nor duplicate that kind of intimacy.

Losing this ring meant losing a part of my soul and future. Dramatic, yes, but accurate in terms of my feelings towards it and what it represented. Shit happens, it is true, and though I’m no saint I wish Shit would occasionally go Happen to someone who really fucking deserves it.

Avril Brown




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