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A Beautiful Life

Sunday, December 11, 2011
After nine months and seventeen days of wearing my wedding ring after Michael’s death, God provided the time, the strength, and the solitude for me to remove it from my finger, along with time by myself for reflection and many tears. (With the arrival of colder weather, I was becoming more and more aware of the ring still on my finger because of a habit I have always had of spinning my ring around my finger with my thumb on cold days. I was doing it all of the time and the knowing that it was time to remove it from my finger kept rising up inside of me.) I still feel a bit shell shocked by this seemingly small act, which, in reality, is monumental for me in this process called grief. It is almost as if I have just turned to the last page of a fairy tale book where you see the words, “The End”, written in a lovely script, then in slow motion, the book closes. At this point you usually think, ”What a beautiful story!”, or, “It all came together so nicely!”, or even, “Nice story, but things don’t happen like that in real life.” It is all of those things because fairy tales never tell the real end of the story. A fairy tale ending is really just the beginning of a beautiful journey through life together. A beautiful journey through life together is beautiful, not because everything is perfect, but because of the strength, growth, sacrifices, courage, tenacity, and fierce love that it takes to overcome hardships and still make the journey successful. An overcoming love is the most beautiful love of all. The deeper the love runs because of shared hardships and pain, the lovelier it is. I heard John or Stasi Eldredge say, “A healed heart is more glorious than a heart that has never been wounded.” Our hearts and our marriage were glorious, and my heart will be even more glorious as I walk on in this life with a scarred heart, which at some point will be a healed heart, without him but with the memories of our journey and the heart that I shared with him. When you are allowed to see the whole fairy tale in its entirety, then you can look at it and say, “Wow, that was really beautiful."

I drove to the jewelry store where Michael and I had purchased our rings and met with our jeweler, who was expecting me. I removed the ring and handed it over to him to clean it and inspect the setting. I had brought with me a couple of old watches, which were in need of repair, which was a good distraction while I waited for the ring. I walked around the store looking into the glass cases at all of the fine jewelry while fingering his wedding band on a necklace around my neck and listening to a couple of men picking out engagement rings with the other salesmen (they were at the very beginning of their fairy tale journey). When he was finished, he came out holding the ring and proclaimed that it all looked good and showed me how beautiful it was as it sparkled in the light. We tried to small talk as he was beginning to put it away for me but my strength suddenly receded and I could hardly breathe or hear what was going on in the room. I was fine until I saw him begin to open up a new black velvet ring box, place the ring inside, then place the ring box within another box. He finally pulled out a gift bag and placed it down inside. He made a comment or question, to which I could not respond, and he looked at me knowingly and handed me the bag. I had a quick thought that it was similar to the “evidence bags” that were gathered from his car and his body following the accident. It was evidence and proof of a life well lived. Evidence of priorities and values well placed. Evidence of a beautiful life. Beautiful not because it was perfect, but beautiful because of the tenacity and fierce love that we maintained through every fire and every victory.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, the rush hit me. The tears were gushing as I was trying to hold myself together, to some extent, while I was driving home. I almost immediately began to hyperventilate through the tears. What had just happened? Was this real? Here I was, driving in lunch hour traffic, alongside people rushing to get back to work or to the next place to shop for Christmas presents, while my heart was wrenching with pain and grieving as I pondered the end of my fairy tale….all while navigating my way home.

Once home, I sat on my bed, pulled out the ring box, and flipped the lid up so that I could stare at the ring. I touched the ring on both sides with my two thumbs while holding the black velvet box in my hands. I let my mind go back to the night he proposed to me, on Christmas Eve, in a restaurant that we had all to ourselves, seated at a table next to the fireplace. Michael had sent a limousine to pick me up and take me to the restaurant where he was waiting and standing next to our table as I walked into the room. He first read from the Bible, which was lying opened on the table as I arrived. He read with his quiet voice,
“At the beginning, the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6. With tears in his eyes, he got down on one knee and pulled a grey velvet ring box out of his coat pocket and opened it for me to see. Looking at me for the first time was this perfectly chosen ring, which stayed on my finger for 24 years.

I thought about our life story for a while, I saw the words on the final page of the fairy tale ending along with the closing of the book, and I thought inside of my heart, “Wow, that was really beautiful.” Thank you, Michael Barranco, for a beautiful love and a beautiful life….from beginning to end……I’m still missing you.


Anonymous Says:
December 12, 2011 at 8:07 AM

Genesis 25:8 - Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years: AND WAS GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE. -
I have no doubt of the wonderful day to come when we will be "gathered" to those who have gone before us to pursue the higher mission and continue in the evolution of God's immense grace. Thank you God there is no "end", only the constant "I Am". Wishing you God's continued grace, love, peace, and guidance.

Susan Newcomer Says:
December 17, 2011 at 7:16 PM

What a "wonderful life" you had with him. Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

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