As the jeweler passed my engagement and wedding ring back in a small plastic bag, I could not stop staring at the brilliance of the gems that had been filmed with neglect and time.
I had not always taken them for granted.
The moonlit night after Randy knelt on the rocky shores of Dale Hollow Lake and asked me to become his wife, I could not sleep. Instead, I kept staring down at the diamond gleaming on my white pillowcase and twirling the loose band around my finger—excited and fearful all at the same time.
After I returned to college – leaving that world of firelight and promise behind -- I took the diamond off to wash my hands; I took it off to play ultimate Frisbee or stunt during practice; I paused while typing English essays and watched the diamonds gleam in the fading light streaming in through my dorm’s oblong window, thinking of him and all that the two of us would become, and then breathed hard on the stones and polished them on my jeans.
As years passed, however, I was not so careful. I kept my rings on to wash the supper dishes and to shower, body wash caking beneath the diamonds, dulling the shine. I kept the diamonds on as I stocked shelves in our store, as I scrubbed toilets, as I mashed ground turkey with spinach and Italian breadcrumbs.
Life came in and dulled the shine until the gems were not something to be admired but just an extension of who I was.
Then the woman passed the rings back to me as lustrous as the day I first received them, and as I admired their brilliance anew, I was struck with the thought that I had allowed the brilliance of my marriage to also become filmed with neglect.
Over time, life had come in and dulled the shine of our union until it was not something I admired but just an extension of who I was. I had begun to take our marriage for granted. I had begun to take him for granted. Not in large, meaningful ways, but I had stopped doing the little things – when he was off building our house I would write a note on a paper napkin and tuck it in with his lunch; now I barely even packed his lunch -- while expecting the little things in return.
And then just the two of us packed one overnight bag with hiking boots and books and a bottle of peach wine. We took our time exploring the grounds of the farmhouse inn tucked between mountain and lake and found ourselves flirting, laughing, until our lungs stitched to our sides; we took pictures and savored meals cooked by other hands while looking in each other’s eyes and toasting to us.
The next afternoon as we drove out the mist-laden road, I felt rested in a way that went beyond just sleep, for I knew that whenever life’s obligations threatened to dull our marriage’s brilliance again, all we had to do was stop and take a moment to stare down at the facets that had brought us together, breathe hard, and polish the gems so that they could renew their shine.
How do you keep your closest relationships from losing their luster?