Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | April 19, 2011

The Ring Snuggie™

On the third finger of my left hand I wear an engagement ring of soft gold surrounding an oval green tourmaline, a stone native to our state. Jeff gave it to me on a Christmas morning many years ago. As he handed it to me and I opened it, our eyes met over the little velvet box and we both knew what it meant without saying a word. If memory serves, I believe the only words spoken at the time were from his sister, breaking our silence: “Welcome to the family!”

Today I am wearing a Ring Snuggie™ on this ring. I have lost so many pounds in the trauma of the months since Jeff died that none of my clothes fit, and the ring slides around on my finger at will. Our daughter asked why I wear it inside my wedding ring – who would expect a teenager to know the wedding ring protocol?
The answer is that I wear it on the inside, closer to the palm, because if it was worn properly, holding the more precious wedding ring in place, it would slip right over my knuckle and be gone forever.

When Jeff was sick he lost lots of weight too (obviously – as one does), and I was a proud and happy problem-solver wife the day I arrived home with a package of doohickeys called Ring Snuggies™, little plastic cylinders of various sizes that slide onto the back side of a ring : “Will adjust your ring up to one full size.” The Ring Snuggie™ meant he was able to keep wearing his wedding ring a while longer. Every time I held his left hand from then on, I could feel the slightly sticky lump of plastic on the underside of his ring finger, a reminder, along with the soft coolness of his weakening grip, of the terminal illness encroaching on our lives.

I remember sliding the heavy gold band off his stiffening finger in the first quiet dark hours of the morning he left us. THAT was certainly one of the hardest tiny acts I have ever performed, although we’d been through so much by then, it was not as traumatic as it might have been…
I do remember my dire thought process leading up to it: Do I leave his ring on his finger, so he is cremated entire, wearing it as he had worn it for all our years together? Do I take his ring off and keep it? Which will I regret less, saving it or letting it go?
And under the circumstances, does any of it matter in the slightest?

I did make the funeral home promise that before cremating him they would remove the internal IV chemo port that had been inserted under his skin. The idea of his ashes being mingled forever with foreign plastic matter was horrifying to me. I did not want to picture how they would perform this procedure, but it was important to ask. I have no idea if they followed through with my request, and frankly I do not want to know. I have never opened the small and heavy box that now contains my husband. Maybe someday I will be strong enough to do so, and maybe someday we will be strong enough to let those ashes go, in the beautiful remote place we have chosen for him. But not yet.

So I found the package of Ring Snuggies™ in his bedside table drawer the other day, and putting one on the now-too-big ring he chose for me all those years ago does solve the problem of the stone sliding around on my hand. But the brutally visceral feel of the small plastic piece against my palm is a constant simmering lowgrade reminder of what has brought us to this point.

It may not be worth it.

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Responses

  1. Might be worth it all around to just have the ring resized. That, or I’ll donate 10 pounds to your cause. Really. No trouble. (20 perhaps?)

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  2. Thank you for the offer, C! Very generous indeed! I considered resizing, but I assume this weight loss due to The Widow Diet is temporary (in the overall scheme of things).

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  3. Cliff was cremated with his ring on. I remember panicking because I couldn’t remember where it was a few hours after he died … and when I asked the nurses who looked after him at the end … they gently told me that I’d asked them to leave it on him. I have removed my wedding ring, but I want it to be cremated with me. My engagement ring is now worn on my middle finger where it swirls around. I have some snuggies too … but don’t like that jelly squishy feeling … yet I don’t want to alter the ring for then it is changed from what he bought me … with love. I’ve gone down 3 dress sizes 😦

    This was a beautiful and tender post xx

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  4. Carolyn – Have you done anything with Jeff’s ashes yet? My husband died after a 4 year battle with colon cancer at age 47 almost 4 years ago. (too many 4’s in that sentence!) Our son was 13 when Marty died and is now 17. I have Marty’s ashes in a little cupboard in our living area. I never could have imagined keeping them in the house with me before this all happened. And I get many incredulous looks when people learn that I still have them, so I don’t share that information with many. I still wonder what to do with them No place seems quite right yet. I wish I had thought of removing the port – I and he hated that thing that allowed poison to be pour into his body to fight the demon within. My heart goes out to you in your loss. This seems like a wonderful site and I only just started to look online about 2 years after Marty’s death. There was absolutely NO support in the small/isolated community I live in aside from my parents who were drained after going through the 4 year cancer battle preceding Marty’s death. Better late than never. Thank you for your post, I will be reading more.

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  5. You ladies and your weight loss!! – I had just lost some weight and was in great shape prior to learning Marty had cancer. I packed on about 20 pounds during the illness and subsequent death. I remember the endless doctors and oncologists telling me to “take care of myself” At the time I thought, “yah right” “how do you do that while taking care of a cancer patient, young son and search for employment that will pay the bills and give you insurance. I too knew that my husband got a death sentence when he was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer that had already invaded his lungs and liver. He still fought it for almost 4 years and NEVER wanted to know the statistics about beating it. He always said “If there are statistics, someone is beating this and it might as well be me.” I admired his ability to put the possibility of death aside, but I needed to deal with the reality of the very real probability of carrying on after his death. Hard to be cheerleader in the face of death, but I pulled it off ………….I think . Anyway, food obviously gives me comfort and I am working on losing those 20 pounds now!

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  6. carolyn, what a strong woman you are. i came across your website whilst searching for ring snuggies. i lost my dad to cancer after a ten year battle in January this year. after my dad was cremated i buried his ashes under a special plant in the cemetary beside other family member. what i did do was keep a little bit and have put it in cremation locket which i wear around my neck and this really helps me feel he is with me. the locket is on a long chain so that is not usually visible to others. i have only told two people about the locket and wish i could share with more but it is just too personal to tell people about _ much easier to share on a website anonomysly. thank you so much for sharing your loss. xx

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