The Ring is the palest shade of lavender possible, it seems. Sometimes, depending on the light, it may be slightly more tinted with purple if the angle suits, or it may appear almost colorless, a crystalline emerald cut stone. Sterling silver has been artfully carved into a setting with lots of open space that lets in more light and suspends the stone high above my finger’s skin. Four silver prongs hold the stone in place, looking like small, very small fingers at each corner. It is an ordinary ring, modest in its assertion that it is an amethyst. I was told it came from Germany, was a type of German amethyst. I don’t know the ring’s age; I was probably half the age I am now when I purchased it in a small vintage/antique store in Pacific Grove, CA. It spoke to me.
Several years later, maybe another four or five, my stepmother was diagnosed with a cancer, etiology unknown. By the time it was discovered, it was terminal. She had been my mother for almost 30 years by then, my birth mother deceased years before when I was 9. My stepmother had been the unlucky one sent to tell me that my mother had died, a moment that tore both of our hearts apart. But, I grew to love her and believed in her, followed her and called her “Mother” and would not deny her as my mother. I had two mothers, was all–one dead and one alive. Allmost 30 years later, she learned her own life would soon end, too.
Twenty-six years ago we sat outside in the hot August sun, talking about a trip she would take to see Paris, in the early fall. I believed that looking forward to the trip would keep her alive longer, give her something to hope for now that the doctors told her there was no hope. Her children, all of us, were stunned and afraid, feeling helpless and sad, wanting to do something, anything, to make a difference in her days. The sunlight caught the pale stone on my finger, made it shine like a diamond, and she admired the ring. Impulsively, I removed it from my right hand and asked her to let me put it on one of her fingers. My hands were larger, but we made it fit. I told her that I wanted her to wear it, to keep it, and she protested that she couldn’t keep it. So, I bargained with her: “Wear the ring until you get back from Paris, keeping me close to you in spirit and stone for I have never been to Paris and wished I could go, too.”
Five months later, just before Christmas, she was gone. It was a hard dying and I don’t remember who said what to whom or who asked, but somehow I think I decided the ring should stay with my youngest sister, my mother’s youngest daughter and the one who had lived with her and been there for all of those difficult, terrible months. My mother had few valuables but we all knew that she liked this ring, an aquamarine ring (her birthstone), and an older gold and onyx ring set with a tiny chip of diamoned, a ring that “disappeared.” I missed the amethyst ring but had others, too, and felt that giving it to my sister was the right thing to do; it was the only small talisman of comfort I could leave with her when I returned home, far away from her.
Years later, given that we sisters are prone to sharing jewelry, the ring went to my next youngest sister. Again, I don’t remember the circumstances and surmise it was something between my two youngest sisters, one of those spontaneous moments two of us would have when going through jewelry together and calling out what was most liked or even coveted. There was almost always an exchange, almost always something considered “on loan” for an indefinite time. Events and circumstances would determine the “right” time to give back an item.
And so it occurred a few weeks ago, another moment when the ring was exchanged again, the wearer being the one who suddenly knew it was the “right” time to pass on the ring. I was visiting with my two youngest sisters and the youngest had just given our other sister a ring, whereupon the sister with custody of the amethyst ring for some years told me to put out my hand. She slipped the amethyst ring onto my finger and told me she felt it was time for it to come back to me. I have endeavored to wear it every day since, except when medical procedures interfered and I know I will not be able to wear it for awhile when I am in the hospital in coming weeks.
There are two parts to this post, one personal, very subjective, and tied specifically to the history written into this post (Part 1). That history is not finished and I imagine the ring will pass to someone again, maybe my daughter or another sister at the “right” time so long as it’s understood it is a ring that no one can permanently claim without breaking the cycle of love and healing we agree to believe is part of this ring’s gift in our lives. Who knows where it might go or if it is lost somewhere along the way? The point is to not break the cycle through willful acquisition or possession intended to inhibit or end the sharing.
In a sense, my sisters and I have set into motion an exchange that generates energy, invisible and potent, that somehow deepened our bonds. We have created a type of family legacy tied to our generation, of which we have had few tangible “anythings” to share by way of verifiable history or possessions “saved” and passed down between generations, let alone siblings. We have created a circle of love and healing in our own time and I know how deeply connected we are through this gift I now wear.
More timely here is the reason for the “right” time, which is the cancer living within me. It affects us all in various ways, but I am the one about to enter the hospital in a few days and be alone even with so many around me. And while I suspect some of you might shudder at my gallows humor here, I must say that I kinda feel like I am approaching the gallows (albeit voluntarily) but the expectation is that I will be rescued from the procedure that kills my bone marrow and, hopefully, as much cancer as possible for as long as possible. (And yes, the doctors do call this a “salvage” or “rescue” procedure that starts on the day I receive back my healthier stem cells aka Day Zero and counting.)
In Part 2, I will expand upon more secular concerns that are essential to how I envision my life. I only have the energy and barely enough mental focus now to get through the next few days, but hope you will want to read more when I am ready and able to write more. In the meantime, there may be shorter posts as I continue along this “detour” in my life’s path.