She brought it out and pulled me aside, as if getting ready to share some cherished secret. And I realized that was exactly what she was doing. Only it wasn’t so much a secret as it was something she kept close to heart and didn’t speak of very much. It was rare for her and it took me a while to fully appreciate just how deep the meaning of sharing this with me was for her. When at last I did it was humbling and somehow incredibly moving.
She carefully took it out of a small box and handed it to me. Having had no clue what she wanted to show me I wasn’t sure what to expect… and standing there with the small ring in the palm of my hand I found myself hesitating. It was so plain and understated… just a circle of gold, raised on the front to encompass a little dark blue stone. I realized that I’d seen it before in her jewellery box and not found its modest appearance half as attractive as most of the other things in there. But now, looking at it properly as she told me its story… I realized something for the first time.
It had been a gift to her from her parents when she was in her late teens. They had it made especially for her by a goldsmith down the road. She had no idea how long they would have had to save to afford it but it had been a significant time she expected. But that wasn’t what made it so precious to her. It was something just for her. As I looked into her eyes I understood for the first time in my life that she understood exactly what it had felt like to me, growing up… being the oldest. The one expected the most of. The one expected to grow up and mature the fastest. The one who “ought to know better”. The one who was supposed to understand that everyone had to make sacrifices.
In her life as a child and young woman… this ring was the gift that was just for her. It was made for her. It had never belonged to anyone else, and she’d never be asked to share it or give it up because a younger sibling wanted or needed it. It was truly hers… a token of love and appreciation from her parents that even now still held every bit as much sentiment and meaning to her as it had done the day she first received it.
I felt a pang of guilt, wondering if I could have appreciated a ring like that in the way she did. And standing there with it in my hand when she told me that she wanted me to have it… was overwhelming to say the least. It opened up for a kind of understanding and kinship I hadn’t experienced with my mom before. And in a way it also felt like forgiveness… forgiveness for all our shortcomings and the disappointments we have caused each other, and acknowledgement for all the sacrifices we have accepted for one another.
And even as I am writing this, I am realizing that the ring has come to take on its own meaning to me… and the gratitude I feared I might not be able to find seems to have sprung abundantly all on its own.
I am blessed.