Somewhere between Mick’s house and my house I lost my wedding ring. I lost my ring last year when I got injured. I had my wedding ring with me that afternoon at Mick’s house. That was the last time. After I awoke from the coma and was released from the hospital I received my personal effects. My clothes—pants, shirt, leather jacket—had been destroyed by the emergency room scissors. Everything had been cut off of me and discarded—everything except for my White Sox baseball cap. The hospital personnel kindly kept safe my wallet and watch.

Not so, my wedding ring. My wedding ring was gone.

My wedding ring—the one object I never removed. The one object I always had with me. The one object I could never lose. A simple, heavy platinum band without ornamentation or adornment, the ring was an impermeable symbol of my marriage.

Whirl replaced the ring. Before she conceded to replacement she searched for the original with undeterred passion and precision. No one was immune from her interrogation: policemen, paramedics, nurses, administrators, surgeons. Everyone who had touched me came under her investigation. At the same time she cared for me, she cared for my family, my home, and herself. She fought with insurance companies. She fought with doctors, priests and psychologists. She did all this to ensure I received complete and conscientious care at a time when I could do nothing for myself.

The ring symbolized these qualities in our love for one another. My initial thoughts about the rings loss caused me to despair. If the ring is gone, the qualities also must be gone. It has taken me some time to realize the huge fundamental errors in that thinking. Perhaps it was sentimentality, maudlin self-pity that clouded my judgment.

This new ring does not fit. It is too big. It pinches. It is too new. I want my old ring back.

I was wrong. – The symbol of a concept is not that concept. That was my lesson. While I mistakenly believed I was taking strength from the symbol, from the ring, it was the actual authentic love and commitment that empowered me. It took me losing that symbol, and seeing those powers in naked, undisguised action, to learn that.

In that way, I am truly stronger for it.