So many unpleasant, unfamiliar decisions accompany the sudden death of a beloved spouse. The first few days after my husband Ray’s passing found me shrouded in a protective state of semi-shock, barely able to think, yet having to make one difficult choice after another – dates, places and times of visitation, funeral, burial and the details of each. My mind would churn and churn and finally spit out an answer, only to go numb again until being summoned for another round of decisions.
The initial weeks of incredulity passed and the realization Ray wasn’t coming back sank deeper into my soul leaving me with new, every-bit-as difficult questions: How long should I keep his clothes? What should I do with his other things? Is there a proper time to stop wearing my wedding ring?
Every time I dreamt about Ray after giving away his clothes, I would apologize profusely, “I’m so sorry I gave your clothes away! I didn’t think you were coming back.”
Ray was never angry in those nighttime encounters. Instead, he calmly assured me, “It’s ok. I don’t need them anymore!”
Over and over, slight variations of the dream plagued my restless nights, until they and the deep-seated angst that spawned them finally subsided.
But what to do about my wedding ring? I took it off about six months after Ray died, didn’t like the look or feel of my naked finger, put it back on, then went through the sequence again. When I sought to retrieve my ring from its place in my jewelry cabinet the second time, there was only an empty slot where it should have been. The vacant spot glared accusingly as regret overtook me. Why, oh why had I ever taken my ring off to begin with?
The knot in my stomach grew as I tried to piece together what happened to my ring. A sickening realization seized me: I hadn’t monitored the movements of the HVAC technician the day before. Instead, I trusted him to service my furnaces and leave my things alone. How could I have been so naïve?
I called the HVAC company to report my suspicions and trailed the next tech around like a puppy on a leash as he confirmed the other guy hadn’t performed the service. He’d spent the time pilfering my ring and a few other items and pawned them before I even knew they were missing.
I was heart-broken at losing such an important part of my history with Ray. The business owner agreed to pay to replace them, so I located the original receipts, including diamond and band descriptions. The jewelry store still carried bands by that jewelry designer and they had a diamond of similar size and quality in stock. A week or so later, I received my new rings, soldered together and engraved “RNK to PLT, 8-5-83” just like the first ones.
I gazed at the rings and bittersweet tears filled my eyes. Gratitude for having my precious rings recreated and restored to me mingled with profound sorrow. It took a little time and money, but I was able to replace my rings. Yet I knew if I sold all my belongings and scraped together every cent of the proceeds, I couldn’t ever pay anyone enough to get Ray back. One day, I will go to him. But he will never return to me. (2 Samuel 12:23)
Reverend Bob Auffarth pastored the church we attended in Delaware. On more than one occasion he commented, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul,” reminding us of the temporal nature of material possessions. I remembered his words when my husband suffered a sudden, fatal heart attack the evening of April 19, 1997. At the hospital, the patient care representative handed me a small plastic bag containing Ray’s wallet, watch, and a few coins. Pastor Auffarth’s words came rushing back to me. Ray hadn’t taken even a penny with him.
My ring, though an important symbol of my husband’s love for me, was an earthly treasure. Scripture is clear on the kind of treasure we’re to store up – the kind that can’t be stolen, the kind that will last for an eternity in heaven, the kind no U-Haul is capable of carrying. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). All we have and are has been entrusted to us (1 Chronicles 29:14). One day we’ll be called upon to give an account of our stewardship (Mathew 25:14-30) and the nature of the treasure we’ve laid up will be revealed (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
Where is your treasure?
 My wedding band and engagement ring were soldered together so the pattern on the bands would be aligned correctly. So, even though I refer to the missing “ring”, both rings were stolen.
 This information came out during the police investigation.
About the Author:
Patsy often refers to herself as “Gardening Grammie,” a title that encompasses two of her favorite pastimes. Widowed at age 38, she was blessed to be gainfully employed all the years she spent raising two daughters on her own. When her job was eliminated 6 years ago, she returned to school to study horticulture, a passion born of caring for the garden her husband left as part of his legacy. She is Grammie to three garden helpers. Patsy started her blog, Back 2 the Garden , to tell others of God’s faithfulness. She is a member of Grace Covenant PCA in Dallas, GA.