Don’t make any decisions

If you want to read about some of the many horrible decisions you have to make when your spouse dies unexpectedly, expand the spoiler text below. If not, skip on ahead to the funny stuff. Well, I think it’s funny, anyway.

My aunt and uncle packed up their Suburban and their dog and were at my house about ten hours after I called them. The next day, the three of us went to the mall to pick out some clothes for Eric’s memorial. I had nothing suitable, as a hoodie and slip-on Merrells seemed a little off, even to me. (My own wardrobe may or may not have been a driving factor in asking people not to wear funereal clothes.) I had been busy every single moment since Eric’s death, and it was desperately important to me that I have a chain (necklace) on which to wear Eric’s wedding ring. I was also sure it had to be gold. And the mall is half an hour from our house, and I really didn’t have time to drive there twice. I was desperate.

Note what I said before about hoodies and Merrells. I don’t wear makeup or jewelry or generally anything whose sole function is to look nice. I will happily spend hundreds of dollars on a single piece of Arc’teryx outerwear, but I buy multiples of the same model of jeans from LL Bean, and I wear them every day. My hoodies and tees bear logos from web comics and the local climbing gym. If I am going to wear any jewelry other than my wedding ring, it will be once every month or so, and it will be an almost invisible necklace with a pendant.

So. There were three or four jewelry stores right in a cluster, all of which were already full up with customers. One eventually told us they didn’t have anything suitable – rather, they were all huge, blinged-out chains that were just not what I’d pictured.

We then moved on to a store that only sold gold. Even their “silver” was white gold. They were also all busy with customers. At some point I emerged from my fog just long enough to notice that most of the customers … all of the customers … well, I hate to generalize, but they were men buying large chains for themselves, dressed in a way that spoke to a certain lifestyle that might not be 100% about legal activities. But whatever. They seemed like nice dudes. Anyway, when it came to my turn, nothing seemed to be quite right. All the chains were too long, too big, too much bling. The very nice sales lady and my aunt both told me that what I had in mind was simply too light-weight for such a heavy ring. Eric’s ring is huge. Like, my ring is a size 7, and his can fit fully around my ring with room to spare. And it’s commensurately wider. After I had rejected various traditional chains, the nice sales lady pulled out a Gucci chain. I didn’t fully process what she meant – literally a necklace made out of the Gucci logo. I tried it on. Maybe? My aunt said it looked pretty good. I asked my uncle, known for not pulling punches. “Honestly? It’s gaudy.” He was right.

So then we went back to the very first chain I’d been shown. This was a “figaro” design, and quite lovely in its own way. That is, if you’re into chains that are jewelry unto themselves. It was much less blinged-out than the others, though it still outshone my husband’s ring. I was desperate both to have a chain for the memorial, and to never have to set foot in a mall again. I had too many things to do in too little time, and I’d had maybe six hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. So I bought the necklace, which totaled over $1k after taxes. It didn’t really look like what I’d pictured, but surely I could get used to it, right? And it seemed like it would draw attention to itself rather than the ring, but what choice did I have, right? And it sure didn’t seem like “me,” but I had to get used to change, right?

That evening, I took the chain off and set it on the bathroom counter, where I definitely wouldn’t forget it in the morning.

The next morning, I saw the chain and felt only horror. What on earth had I been thinking? Was it even possible to return this thing? What had I done? I looked in my jewelry box, and I found the perfect silver chain – plain and just a little tarnished. On it, his gold ring takes proper precedence. Instead of a huge chain, I’m going to use the rock climbing philosophy and wear two silver chains. Spread the load and have a backup. Makes sense to me.

The good news is that they have a seven day return policy, and were incredibly sweet about the whole thing. The good news is also that it was a costly decision that I could reverse with a minimum of fuss and a full refund. So all in all, this was a fairly painless lesson to drive home the point – avoid making decisions as much as possible. There was also a silver (gold?) lining, in that I was able to entertain my friends at what I kept calling the … pre-party? reception? … the event we had for out of towners before the actual memorial service.

Next step: figure out the inheritance process and all of Eric’s financial accounts. Fortunately, there will be no decisions required there whatsoever. Right?

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