The Stuff That Really Matters

Friday night I learned what really matters in life, and what doesn’t. Yes, I’ve had these mini-lessons before, but everyone needs a brush up every now and then. My boyfriend and I have been discussing rings lately. You know, THE RING. In my last marriage, I got a cubic zirconia ring from Sears….and wore it for 12 years. Not this time, my boyfriend says. This time, I deserve the best. Of course, the best has to fall within budget, as well. We found this out early on. Apparently, a karat doesn’t come so cheap.

Friday night, he breaks the news. “I had to go down to a 3/4 karat. I know you said you didn’t care about the diamond, just the setting.”

I did? “Actually,” I say, “I told you I didn’t care about the color, clarity, and all the mumbo jumbo that brings the price of a diamond up. But I still wanted the karat.”

His eyes bulge out. “You’re kidding me. I just spent two hours trying to get them to customize the setting you want with a smaller diamond. It’s only made for karat and up.”

Oops. “Can’t you tell them you changed your mind?”

“We can’t even afford the karat.”

(More arguing about something that should NEVER be argued about.) He cools down and we make plans for the evening. A ride on his motorcycle to see the fireworks. Fun! He says he wants to take a small ride first because the bike’s been acting up. I get all gussied up in my motorcycle jacket and wait for him to return. Within five minutes I get a phone call.

“This is Lieutenant So and So. Your boyfriend was in a motorcycle accident over on East Line Rd. I’ve called an ambulance.”

Oh my God. I rush to the scene now sprawling with emergency medical technicians and police. Cars are being detoured, the drivers rubbernecking as they pass. They’re rubbernecking MY boyfriend! My boyfriend who’s lying in a ditch and can’t move his legs. My boyfriend who is as strong as an ox, but who now looks as weak and helpless as a newborn fawn.

I watch, tears streaming down my cheeks, as the EMTs cut his pants away. As they wrap his left leg and his right arm. As they secure his neck in a brace. As they lift him onto a stretcher. As the ambulance pulls away and I can’t be inside with him. My mind is whirring through the past two and a half years. All the happy moments. And what the future may hold. Would he walk again? Would I now have to take care of the man who has taken care of me so well?

Then I think of the engagement ring. How stupid of me. Making a fuss over a karat versus 3/4 karat. Such a trivial trinket in comparison to the actual man by your side. A man who could be paralyzed from the waist down. At that moment, I didn’t care about the ring at all. I didn’t want it. I just wanted my boyfriend to be okay.

Someone heard my prayers.

Five hours later, after multiple cat scans and x-rays, I walk out of the emergency room with my boyfriend at my side wearing a pair of blue oversized orderly pants and steel toe work boots. We laugh about how ridiculous he looks and then stop into Burger King for a late dinner, hospital pants and all.

He was very lucky. Not one broken bone. It’s times like these though when you learn to appreciate the stuff that really matters. It’s not the size of your diamond that’s important, but the person who gives it to you.

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