I've never relied on the kindness of strangers, though I've always believed in it.
Now I'm hoping some kind stranger will read my sad story, because I'm counting on that person to do the right thing.
Sometime over Memorial Day weekend, I lost the engagement ring I've worn on my finger for 15 years.
Since it's been gone, I've gone through the five stages of grief at least three times, maybe four. I've also discovered I'm part of a small, sad brother-and-sisterhood of people who have lost their wedding jewelry. We haunt the lost & found section on Craigslist, then make ourselves crazy sorting through more than 15,000 listings for "pre-owned matrimonial jewelry" on eBay, before giving up and pricing metal detectors.
Then we cry on the shoulders of our spouses who, if we are lucky, are more understanding about it than we ever expected, which only makes us cry more.
I've also learned I'm much more attached to a material possession than I ever thought I would be. I think that's because, like all wedding jewelry, my ring has a story.
Ironically, for my first marriage, I'd never even wanted an engagement ring. We were young, had very little money, and I reasoned to my fiance that I'd rather spend it on plane tickets to Greece. He was a good guy, but the marriage didn't make it -- and it had nothing to do with diamonds.
Years later, when I got engaged to Peter, things were different. I was older. We were moving in
Still, the idea of ring-shopping just felt weird, maybe because we already had our hands full house-shopping and family-blending. When Peter asked his mother if she might have something, she opened a safe and unearthed a tangle of stones and metal. It was a reminder that her family had once had money, much of which was lost in the 1929 stock market crash, the rest of which disappeared when the family business -- Livingston's department store on Union Square -- went under. Then she married an artist.
So it was an enormous surprise to us all to discover that a diamond even existed. Encased in a remarkably gaudy, tacky setting, it looked like cheap costume jewelry. But a closer look revealed it was flawed in a way cubic zirconium never is -- was it a real diamond after all?
We took it to a jeweler who confirmed it was, then tried to sell us banquets and chips and all kinds of things to "enhance" it. We rejected them all and together designed a simple, raised setting -- a creative process that confirmed, once again, that our aesthetics were completely in sync.
Suddenly the woman who'd never cared a whit for jewels, who had always been more Berkeley than Blackhawk, was entranced by one very gorgeous ring. At meetings, I'd surreptitiously stare at it. At traffic stops, I'd twist my wrist to throw prisms of light around the car. Mostly I just reveled in how completely incongruous this elegant piece of jewelry looked juxtaposed on my inelegant, unmanicured, nail-bitten hand.
But more than that, I loved it as a symbol of happy love, a promising future together, and the generous welcome my husband's family had extended to my daughters and to me.
The last time I remember it being on my hand was at Crissy Field, where we watched the fireworks explode over the Golden Gate Bridge. But why would it fall off that night? It wasn't even loose.
The next day was a work holiday. I was running errands. On Tuesday, I rushed off to work, figuring it was still upstairs next to the bed, but I had no time to check. That night, when I did enough searching to realize that the cat had not knocked it off the bookshelf next to my bed, I started to worry. Still, I was caught up in work, convinced it would show up.
When it didn't, panic set in. Not wanting to alarm my husband, I quietly tore apart the couch, the sideboard, the bookshelf next to my bed. Finally, I retraced my steps in earnest and realized the most plausible explanation was that I'd foolishly taken it off my hand while sampling hand lotion at the Home Goods store in San Ramon on Memorial Day. I hurried over there, but it was almost a week later. No one had turned it in. While the employees there were exceptionally kind as we scoured the shelves together, there was nothing to be found.
Only then did I think to turn to Craigslist. I posted my sad plea, with a promise of reward, to no avail. I spent some painful time on eBay, realizing it would be easier to unearth the proverbial needle in the haystack.
I then had the crazy hope that my husband might have found it somewhere, just waiting to see how long it would take me to tell him it was MIA. When I finally told him, I realized the absurdity of that idea. He's never been the kind of husband who played mind games.
In fact, he was the kind of husband who put his arms around me as I cried and told me it would be OK.
And it will be. As much as I valued that ring, I value the happy marriage it promised a thousand times more.
Still, if you happen to have found a wedding ring -- gold and platinum band, single diamond -- be kind. You know where to find me.
Lisa Wrenn is the Features Editor. Contact her at 925-943-8251 and follow her at Twitter.com/lwrenn.
Have you lost your engagement or wedding ring, or maybe another piece of jewelry with sentimental value? Share your story in the comments section below.