It’s very hot in July in Illinois, but I suffer it happily. Music festivals are meant to be miserable. I’m wandering the merch tents with my oldest sister, Saturn, taking in all the urging banners and band T-shirts, deep in thought. Deep in mourning, just one layer below the surface. It’s taking a lot of intentionality to be present and collected. It’s been just a few short weeks since Mom left my Dad, and she’s still sleeping in a shelter while she looks for an apartment. Yet here I am, at a music festival. I haven’t been able to see her, nor my littlest brother and sister, Pewter and Rose– our house would be the first place he’d look, of course, and she wouldn’t do that to us.
My fingers trail along a tray of silver jewelry. Rings with crosses and fish, roses and trinity knots. Then the next tray– wide, solid bands with Hebrew engraving. I see one translated “Trust In Me.” My eye darts to my left ring finger. I grab the gold band and tug it off. My fingers are hot and swollen and the ring has been nestled against my skin for ten years. It doesn’t want to come off, but I want it off more than anything. I am wearing a promise I made to a man who didn’t keep his, a promise I don’t have the strength nor energy to keep. Who am I to make promises? Who is he to be the keeper of my promise? The ring comes off at last and I shove it in my pocket. My finger is aching and scratched and naked. I take a deep breath and try not to cry in front of strangers.
Saturn wanders over to see what’s caught my eye. “I think we should buy this ring. I want one. I think Mom needs one. This ring is receiving a promise. It isn’t making one. It isn’t saying I’m stronger than I am. It isn’t making rules. This ring says we can relax. It reminds us the only One making trustworthy promises is the only One who can absolutely keep them. We’re all losing rings right now. We need new ones.” She nods. She understands.
I slip my new ring onto my thumb. I like thumb rings the best. Who decided which finger should hold rings? Screw them.
I slip my new promise onto my thumb. A promise received, not given, not taken. A promise as simple as “I Am.” A promise of non-specifics. I have no idea what’s next, where life is going, what to do. I don’t know who I’ll love or who will love me, what state they’ll find me in if they ever do. I don’t know if I can ever get married or trust or love. But I do know I can Trust in One. I feel my body relax. I look at my beautiful naked finger and my beautiful embraced thumb. I squeeze the new ring in my pocket for my Mom. I’ll be seeing her at my place at the end of the week. We’ll watch fireworks together and I’ll hug my sister and brother and see that they’re okay. And I’ll offer my mom the only thing I can: A chance to find a little peace in ceasing to give and relaxing to receive.