The night of October 18th was the last time I saw my engagement ring, wedding band, and watch.
I had just gotten better from a cold that had me in bed for a couple days, sleeping off the clamminess, while Kevin had to take over my duties as caretaker.
Finally strong enough to partake in activities again, I was back to packing in activities galore that Saturday: I rolled to Micah’s homie’s 4th bowling birthday party while Daddy and Ellis enjoyed some dim sum together. We then rushed through the pumpkin patch for some seasonal family photos before Small Group/Community Group on Long Island with our church friends.
After realizing that the rings and watch were truly missing, I couldn’t help but replay vivid images of my diamond engagement ring from that final day it was on my finger.
I recalled my diamond against the delectable, explosive cheeks of an infant in our group. I remembered it flashing as I talked with my hands in our friends’ basement.
Never saw it again after that.
I was so wiped when we got home that Saturday that I couldn’t retrace my steps. The standard question folks always ask: “Where did you last put it?” I DON’T KNOW! That’s why it’s missing!
I don’t wear my rings and watch daily so I didn’t even know they were missing until that Wednesday when I thought it’d be nice to wear them again. I mentioned it to Kevin on my way out that rainy night, commenting that I ALWAYS put them in the same place.
I imagined that after I got home that night, Kevin would shake his head at me and say, “Hey, I found them. Be more careful next time!” or that I’d just missed them in my cluttered jewelry armoir.
But they never turned up.
I had to ask Kevin to stop saying, “It’s gotta be in the house somewhere! It’s just got to!” It was too painful to hear.
Turning the house upside down became our nightly ritual after Ellis would finally succumb to sleep.
Praying, sighing, crying, searching…repeat. Not able to enjoy much.
All scenarios were possible now. I could have left them on my nightstand though I never do. I always slide the rings onto my watch “band” so that the rings are never on their own. That was supposed to make it easier to find them.
I felt sick thinking that they could have been thrown out with the diapers. Since any scenario was possible, they could have fallen from the nightstand into the OPEN trashcan full of dirty diapers that I take out at least once a day.
Though highly unlikely, they could have been flushed down the toilet or thrown into any of the trash cans lying around our small apartment.
We deposed the kids though they provided unreliable, fickle testimony, ranging from:
I didn’t do it. (The other brother) did it.
I saw Daddy do it, yeah. When I was sleeping, I saw Daddy ‘doed’ it.
I promise I never put them in the trash or toilet, Mommy, but Ellis did.
No, Micah did.
Sorry, Mommy, we promise we never never never did it.
I cried. I cursed. I shook my fists towards the sky. I asked Kevin to get mad at me. We prayed some more. We repeated ourselves – “So right after we got home that night, where did you go?”
I told some people about it. When I got drained from telling a few people about it, I didn’t bother telling others. Why rehash it?
I wanted to cancel every activity I had to show up for so I can either find the damn rings or grieve them properly. Everyone else’s rings would flash on their hands and I would imagine mine on my ring finger all over again.
I cut myself while cutting a carrot for our breakfast smoothies a couple weeks after the rings went missing. Micah, a fellow sensitive and perceptive soul, inquired with his bright eyes, “Mommy? Are you crying because you cut your finger or are you really crying because you still can’t find your ring and watch?”
The kids would pray with us too. “Please God help Mommy and Daddy find Mommy’s rings and watch.”
I went through a range of emotions. The nights were the worst. I was mad at God. “Why can’t You have mercy on me if You are so damn omnipotent? I know I am the one who lost my rings – that was ALL ME, I get it – but if YOU are God, why can’t You intervene? I came home from studying Your Word with church folk when I misplaced the rings. You can’t show some compassion? You are NOT just some genie in the sky, but LORD, You know You can receive all glory if You recover them for me. You can even return them to me in an undeniably God moment and people will bow down! Like have a posse of ants carry them to me? That would be all YOU!”
Then I felt guilty for getting so irate at God as I knew this was NOT a life or death situation but a loss of an earthly possession, and for treating Him like a genie in the sky though I kept confessing that He is more than that. But damn it, it was my most valuable and valued possession.
Of course, I also beat myself up for having misplaced them. I negotiated with God – “Just the engagement ring then? Let THAT materialize before me. I can let the other two go!”
Wondered if I was being punished for not just the negligent care of my treasures but negligent care of my marriage. I remember when I first wore those rings as a newly engaged gal. I didn’t even want to wear winter gloves lest the lining mess up the raised platinum prongs! I treated the ring so gingerly in those early days, and now they might have been thrown out with shit.
Fitting for how I treated my marriage – handled it with care in the beginning, but negligently over the past couple years, blaming Kevin for our less-than-comfortable life here in NYC where the weather can be a beast, parking issues galore, family support scarce, and constant sensory overload.
I even threatened God at one point. “Aight then. You gonna show me no mercy? You gonna stay THIS silent? Then I’mma go collect on my own. I’mma have to rob a jewelry store and get mine. That’s what it’s come to.”
Lesser threats of a non-criminal nature: “This loss cannot be in vain. If my rings don’t come back to me, I’mma go ahead and foolishly have a third child and name him Tacori Kim after my lost ring!” (Kevin said, “So you really gonna become one of those people who name their kids after labels? Gucci, Prada?”)
I ended up praying with different folks from church about this loss. Last Sunday, one of my friends prayed that He would be a flashlight unto my path. I forget her exact phrasing as we prayed for each other in a group setting but I do remember the word “FLASHLIGHT.” Even after we prayed, I cried saying, “I don’t actually believe that they can be found after 22 days of being lost. I bet He’s gonna try to build some more character in me as I learn from this loss. It makes me sick to think they were thrown out like trash! Build my character but gimme my rings back!”
I tried to rest after church and Costco last Sunday but the sadness wouldn’t let me exhale or enjoy. I couldn’t get into any of my fave TV shows or magazines. I said to Kevin, “Hey, let’s pray again. I’m just so sad about this and I feel like just peeling off my skin. Let’s just pray again.”
The kids were screaming and crying, fighting bedtime, begging us not to close their bedroom door. We can’t even lock the door any more since they know how to unlock it and walk out.
We were on our knees on the Pororo playmat, praying. I repented some more. My anger. My blaming God. My allowing the kids to rule our household. My not seeking Him out more prior to this loss. My blaming Kevin when life wasn’t exactly how I imagined it would be in terms of ease and comfort.
I took a break from the prayer because I needed a break from Micah pleading with us to come back into their room and lie down with them, a habit we are trying to break.
Kevin called me from the living room, “JIHEE?” His voice was weird.
As soon as I heard the way he called out, I was hoping it was what I thought it was. But also scared to hope.
I ran out and he was crying, on bended knee on the step of our sunken living room. “Will you marry me?”
We were bear hugging and crying together.
Kevin had taken a break to stand up to grasp the boys’ bedroom doorknob to keep them from escaping. While he stood there, holding firmly onto their doorknob, he sensed a voice in his heart.
So he did. Kevin looked down, right at the boys’ toy kitchen by their bedroom door and bent down to open the oven door.
My rings and watch fell out, one by one, SEPARATELY.
My boys had NOT played with that kitchen recently.
I must have placed them on the top of the kitchen as I ended up cuddling with Micah before he fell asleep late night on October 18th though I had proclaimed that I wasn’t going to have anything to do with bedtimes.
We still don’t know how they fell into the oven as it would require a lot of synchronizing. And if it fell in, who shut it closed without looking inside? The boys would have told us.
They were missing for 22 days. My boys are 22 months apart. No significance – I just love my numbers.
When I wore them to breakfast the next morning to show the boys what we had found while they were sleeping, Micah smiled and commented like an adult, “Is that what I think it is?” He was beaming. “Daddy found them? So, does this mean I don’t get a present for finding them?”
When he found out where we had found them, he said, “Oh, I checked there already. They weren’t there before. I saw a hand put them in there and then they popped out.”
Kids say the darndest things but I almost feel like they did supernaturally rematerialize. Whether they rematerialized or we simply overlooked the play oven, their discovery WHILE we were crying out to Him has been working small miracles in our family.
We are praying more than ever. My anger has been shed, though I know it is always a work in progress. My struggle with envy has been lifted as of now. I am happy to have MY life, MY struggles, MY rings. No one else’s.
I truly believe that God cares about the details in my life. NOT that it means happily ever after in all situations but He knows what I need…and when…and how. Kevin said that if he had found them while searching like a madman, he would not have attributed it to God.
Also, had I not found them, He still could have transformed me through those desperate prayers alone.
I thought that finding them would be the highlight of my week but the happiness continued to flow as I shared with different people about how He found them for us. From good friends to church acquaintances to our doorman – folks being so happy for me has doubled my happiness.
Thank You Lord for adding another love story to my rings. Not just of Kevin’s love for me but how You looked out. I will share this story now.
The story of how You met us.