Remember this ring you bought me? You bought it from that jewelry shop that used to be at Park Royal- the North side of the mall. Boy, that mall has totally changed since you’ve been gone. Sometimes, I really hate the changes. Too much changes and then I feel I’ve lost places I could go to to conjure up more memories or feelings from when we use to just hang out at malls or restaurants. I know the memories should just stay with me, but I feel like the changes just remind me more that you’re gone. And that is not something I need more reminders of.
At least I have this ring. So… you actually bought me a gold ring with an amethyst jewel in the center. You knew that amethyst was my birthstone? Or was that just coincidence? Well, I have such slender fingers. So do you, so DID you. 😦 But maybe not as small as mine. So I think what happened was that you brought the ring home for me and it was too big? That’s when we went out to the shop to resize the ring. And while we were telling the sales guy what we wanted, you must have put on the ring, on your own hand. And I really liked it on you. So did you decide you should keep it then, or did I tell you that you should?
I always had to convince you to keep anything for yourself. You were always giving and thinking of others first. But it looked beautiful on you- that amethyst ring. And you still wanted to give me a ring. I must have mentioned somewhere in the conversation that I really liked silver. The sales guy was on it, and he pulled out this little ring, a silver one, and it had these five little gem stones in it. It was pretty, but I wasn’t totally sure about it. Until, he told us the story behind it and its name.
“It’s called a Journey Ring,” he said to both of us. And as he pointed to each little gem, he said that they represent different journeys in our lives. And that the pattern of going from a small gem to a bigger and bigger one was supposed to represent going from one journey to deeper and deeper ones.
You smirked and said something like, “It’s perfect for my daughter because she is ALWAYS on some journey.” Haha! Oh my God, Mom, that was a good one. And then the equally funny sales guy put his hand over yours and said, “Mom, we are ALL on a journey.”
I found it hilarious that he called you “Mom”- this tall, Asian Jewelry salesman in a crisp, classy suit. I wanted to say, “Wait, she’s MY mom,” but of course I didn’t. I know he was trying to be flattering and connect with us to make the sale. And actually, he did a good job of it, because I was sold by the story behind the ring and I loved its name. And I think you just liked that I liked it.
Did we get it resized there? I think we must have needed to. It seems strange that it would have fit perfectly. That rarely happens with rings on my hands.
I never knew how significant that moment would be, how it suddenly arose as one so deeply etched in my mind and heart. I was excited about having a ring from you and one that represented this travel bug I always seemed to have, and this search for something deeper. Excited about all the future journeys I would be going on or that were waiting for me. What I didn’t want to face was having to continue without you. That is not something I was consciously thinking about at that time. Because I know that whenever the idea did creep into my mind, I couldn’t stay with it. It frightened me so much. I had to always try to run away from it or just brush it aside.
Since then, I have come to learn that there are many types of journey rings. It is not that unique of a name. But my ring is unique because it came from you and holds the story of that day for me.
I’ve been going on a few more journeys than normal since you’ve been gone. This time, they were all either in search of a connection to you, or in search of answers and maybe to escape the reality of your not being here.
I have learned over and over that it is not something I can escape.
I have tried to imagine inviting you on the journeys, to accompany me and see all these new lands and people and sites and sounds. But no matter where I go, no matter how far, or who I meet, I cannot fill the space that is left inside of me that only you and your voice and touch and your peace can fill. I am still looking for proof of your peace.
I don’t know how to find it. And when I am away, I feel guilty for not having made more time to go on and experience these trips with you. To experience new foods, cultures, clothing, and music that exist around the world with you. Traveling has given me new insights, taught me so much, made me come back home with fresh eyes and a rejuvenated heart. THIS is what you needed. And I feel awful for not having helped you have those experiences. I shared this feeling of guilt with an acquaintance I met while I was away recently.
He told me that I no longer need to feel guilty because “Your mother is going with you now to all of these places. She is probably thanking you for going on these journeys. Because all that you experience and see and feel through them now, she is able to share with you.”
I would like to believe that he is right. I really would. I just don’t know anymore. And I still am always looking for proof. I am sorry, Mom, for not taking more journeys with you, for not seeing more of the world with you.
Places are changing around me, even people and areas around home are transforming into newer buildings and businesses. But I will hold on to the little things, like my journey ring from you, to remind me of the journey that I was blessed to have with you. Even if it didn’t involve flying to another continent, or enough shopping trips in other countries, I know that my best and most meaningful journey was the one spent with you. All the moments, all the conversations, all the silences, all the laughs and even the tears. The best journey of my life was you. Thank you, Mom.