Today is the 24-week mark of Peter’s Death. Five and half months ago, my heart was crushed, my soul went vacant and my life was forever changed. Sometimes, it seems like a lifetime ago. Sometimes, it seems like yesterday. Most times, it’s a mixture of both. All the time I know our life together is gone.
I am no longer together with the one person who I created lives with, who became half of me, who I loved more than anyone I have ever known, and who was my person. I am without him forever and for always. I am a widow, his widow, and I move through life in a pain I have never known before.
There are moments throughout my day where I shake my head and think, ‘this really happened’. Then there are other times where disbelief does not exist and perhaps those are the most painful. I know Peter is dead. I have never been in denial about it. Since the moment the police officer came to my door, I knew, Peter was gone, never to be part of me again.
Yet, I do hold onto the shock, the suddenness, the unbelievability of it all. While I lay in bed, during the loneliest, darkest part of the day, I say to myself, to God, to Peter if he’s listening, to the room “I cannot believe I will never see My Mister ever again here on earth” and “I cannot believe our time together is over.” I question if I’ll ever see him again period. And before you say, oh you will, or oh he’s with you, let me just say, you can save your breath because I won’t believe you. Not now. Not fully.
A week ago, I made a decision. It was something I thought about for a few weeks. Truth be told, it was a decision I knew from the beginning, I would eventually make; it was a question of when. Last Tuesday, I took off my wedding ring. It wasn’t as if I woke up in the morning and said, “this is the day”. I didn’t do it ceremoniously or with fanfare. It was a day I met a friend for lunch and the place was across from the Jewelry District. I thought I need to get stones in another ring cleaned and tightened and while I’m there…
I took off my wedding ring from my left hand and placed it on my right. I had to get it resized as my right hand is about a size larger than my left. I thought I would have to leave it at the store and come back for it. I thought maybe then, while I don’t have the ring, I would think about it and all that it meant. However, the jeweler told me to come back in thirty minutes. And I did. And it was done.
The ring I put on over twenty-eight years ago, the symbol of our marriage, our fidelity, our life together, no longer holds the same meaning now that Peter died. I am not married to Peter anymore. Death did part us. Oh, I feel love for Peter. I will always feel love FOR Peter. The love I feel FOR Peter is why Grief, and all its pain, is still around. I loved Peter hard and I still love him deeply. We were inmeshed as one. I can’t, nor will ever forget, part of me who created my children, or created a huge part of me. But married to him? It seems like a once-was thing to me.
The taking off of the wedding ring is a very personal choice. Many women and men keep their wedding ring on for years. Others are buried in them, or take them off shortly after their spouse dies. My father was buried with his on, and my mother took her wedding ring off shortly after he died. It wasn’t because she loved him less than a widow who kept her wedding ring on for years. If you witnessed the way my mother took care of my father when he became really sick, you would have seen her love for him. It was a choice she made, and you know, I never questioned it.
I thought of putting my ring on a chain, with Peter’s wedding ring. It’s something a friend of mine did. But, I play with necklaces and have broken my fair share. I didn’t want to break the chain holding our rings and lose either or both of them. So I switched my wedding ring over to my right hand and placed Peter’s on my middle finger, alongside it. It makes more sense for me there. I’m still reminded of our marriage, of his importance, of my passionate and deep consuming love for him. If my son ever gets married, Peter’s ring will be given to him. Peter’s wedding ring was his father’s so it would be nice, it would be necessary, to keep up the tradition. Until then, I will wear it for safekeeping.
There may come a day I take off my ring altogether. Maybe not, I mean I did wear it through pregnancies and childbirth – a feat some women didn’t accomplish. On my left hand still sits the thank-you ring Peter got me when he received his master’s degree. It was a ring he designed with my birthstone in the middle and our kids’ stones flanking either side. It’s beautiful and one I will always be grateful for Peter in recognizing my part in his degree. Those were very sacrificial years.
For some, it may seem quick to take off my wedding band. For others, it may seem like I held on too long. But for me, it was time. I’ve done everything on my own timeline since this all began, since Death ripped away from me the person I loved more than anyone, ever. Since this all began, I have listened to my feelings and last week, I felt it was time. It was time for me to let go. Not of the man and the memories, I will forever hold onto them, but to the symbol of something we no longer can share – a life together. That ended when he died five and a half months ago today.