Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Milwaukee and the "Terrible Awful"

If you have read or seen "The Help" then you know what a "terrible awful" is.  The "terrible awful" according to Minny, is doing the unthinkable.  Of course, Minny's terrible awful was much more comical and entertaining than mine turned out to be, although I imagine I had the same panicky feeling afterward when it sunk in that I'd done the unthinkable.

Wednesday morning on our vacation, we awoke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  We'd arrived the night before and attended the Brewers vs Rockies baseball game and had plans to run the next morning before continuing our adventure in Chicago.  We took our time, had some breakfast and relaxed a bit before packing up and heading to a nearby park to run.

I wasn't sure how far I'd go as my legs were very tired from a fast 12 miler the day before, along with staying up super late and getting some not-so-restful sleep in a hotel room.  Still, it was a nice, cool day and a beautiful park awaited us.  My run was slow and laborious, but there was so much beauty to see that I spent more time soaking it in than worrying about my pace.

We ran in Grant Park, which had seemingly endless greenways and despite the grayness of the day, I ran under lush, green trees and foliage most of the way.  At one point I came out onto a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan.  I stopped my watch and just stood there, taking it all in.  It looked like an ocean!  I saw several chipmunks scurry across the path in front of me as I ran, and saw two dear up close and personal as they munched on greens.  I stopped then too, grinning like a fool at all the nature around me.  I couldn't wait to finish up my run, grab my camera and drag Jason back to all these beautiful sites.

About two tenths before I finished my 6th mile and concluded my run, I realized I was not wearing my wedding rings.  It only took me a second to realize I had taken them off the night before placing them on the bathroom counter and that I had not retrieved them that morning.  I wasn't overly panicked.  I figured I'd just call the hotel and tell them I needed to come back and get my rings.  We were only about 10 minutes away and we'd only been gone about an hour.  I knew my rings would still be there, and even if they'd cleaned the room, I knew they'd found them.

I was calling the hotel as Jason completed his run and I told him we needed to go back.  He immediately hopped in the car, and as the head cleaning lady came back on the phone to tell me the room had been cleaned and there were no rings, I began to become more alarmed at the situation.

We got back to the hotel, went back to our room and there were no rings.  We, along with two managers, searched the trash (multiple times), the sink, the sink drains, the vacuum and bags, the entire contents of laundry, both clean and dirty, under the beds and sheets and pillow cases... all to no avail.  They were gone.

During all of this I was sort of stunned. I had been so sure we'd find them.  I knew exactly where I'd left them and Jason had seen them there that morning.  I felt guilty as I began to suspect they'd been taken by someone, but what other explanation could there be?

I'd been successful in holding it together in front of these strangers.  I was so embarrassed and I knew I looked like a silly lady who'd lost her wedding rings.  But when we got in the car to drive away, I realized they really were gone and I was not getting them back and I lost it.  I cried so hard I wanted to throw up and I used up an entire travel bag of tissues in Jason's glove box.  I couldn't believe I had done that.  Who does that?  Why hadn't I thought to put my rings on before we left?  Jason had asked me if I had everything and I'd said yes!  Why did I have to take them off in the first place?  Where in the world were they anyway?  They were the rings Jason had given me when he asked me to marry him and now I'd never see them again.

We almost cancelled our trip and headed home, but that made me sad too.  We were having the most wonderful time.  I had planned to show him the view of the lake/ocean.  I was going to take pictures.  We were going to go to Chicago and see the aquarium and run along the lakefront path and go to the apple festival in his hometown.  I still wanted to do all of that, but I didn't feel like I deserved to.

Eventually, I got myself together and we drove to Chicago.  It was hard to sleep that night and the next day there was a lingering sadness over us both.  We were pretty quiet most of the day as we looked at the strange and beautiful creatures in the aquarium and walked along the water.  I knew they were just rings and that my marriage to Jason was just as strong and wonderful with rings as without.  This perspective began to take hold and by the next day, I think Jason and I were both starting to let it go a little more.

We did end up having a wonderful time on the rest of our trip.  And maybe this whole ring-loss thing brought us even closer than we were before.  I'm still disappointed that they are gone, and it feels very strange not to have them on my finger.  I still go to put them on every morning and I am surprised they are not in the little soap dish on the bathroom counter where I always kept them.  But I know in the big scheme of things this is a small thing.  They are only things, after all, that will perish with every other material thing we own.  Our marriage, however, will grow and change and remain and that is what matters most.


  1. Wow, I can't believe you were able to hold it together while searching the room. And to think that they were probably actually stolen by the maids!!Of course, the practical side of me is wanting to ask if they were insured?

  2. No, not insured. This may sound bad, but I don't think they will be worth that much monetarily. They were tiny, but intricate and that is what I loved about them.

  3. Ever since I read your 1st reference to the terrible awful in whatever blog post that was several days ago, I've been trying to imagine what on earth it could be. I was thinking something along the lines of a car wreck or something (obviously not a life threatening one since you are back and ok). But oh man... this really was a terrible awful! I'm so sorry, Friend.


  4. I'm so sorry Jane!!! That would make me absolutely sick, I hate that you had to go through that!! I'm sorry I didn't notice that on Tuesday, Goodness!! You are such a positive person to look past this, I too would have cried my eyes out and been heartbroken about it. I pray they have been put in some side zipper somewhere or that someone comes forward with the rings. Know its something special, I hate you had to go through that experience.
    ~ Dana

  5. Thank you, friends. I didn't want to string it along too much from that earlier post. ;)

    It was and is pretty sad. I can't say I'm not still pretty sad about them being gone, but it is not as powerful as it was at first. A few friends have had similar things happen and they said they eventually replaced the rings and now they are like the very first ones. So I guess this loss will just be a part of our story... and one day telling it won't be so sad.

  6. OH JANE. I'm so sorry. I'm crying just reading the post. I'm just sick about it for you. Yes, they are "just" rings, but still. You handled it a lot better than I would have.

  7. Well, it really does get better with time. The first few (or several) moments were awful, and while it still feels weird not to have anything on my finger and to have lost those two cute little rings that Jason gave me, I do feel much better now. Mostly. ;)