(Photograph by Deb Lindsey)

Susan P. Williams
52, Arlington
, copy and production chief, WP Magazine

During my wedding vows, the preacher held up my groom’s ring so the entire church could gawk at its size. He guffawed and likened it to a hubcap.

I had bought it from a proper jewelry store. The shame of meager means had followed me through the years like a hungry dog, and this new purchase overcompensated for the ring I had bought at a pawn shop for my first marriage decades earlier.

My second husband, who didn’t bear the preacher’s mockery well, never wore the ring. At first, it was tight from my meatloaves and macaroni sides. Then he allowed that he wasn’t much for jewelry. It was a symbol more than anything else.

But I would press him: “Please. I want other women to know you are spoken for.” He would laugh at the thought that he might even notice another woman sizing him up.

Years later, when cancer had shrunk him by one-third, he tried on the ring again; it dangled on his finger like a joke. From his bed he said, “I’m sorry,” and gave it back to me.

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