There we sat, the hometown boy and I, in the front seat of his car. I sat there…stunned…holding the ring in my hand, while he waited anxiously for my reaction. That drum that had been beating in my head sounded more like a full on marching band now.
I knew instantly, from the look of the ring, that this was not intended to be an engagement ring, and for that I was grateful, but I was also not so stupid to think this was just a friendship ring either. With my hands shaking as if I were performing open heart surgery with a can opener, I took the ring from its box and held it up to the interior light for a better look. “it’s just beautiful!” I said, “but you shouldn’t have gone to such expense.” “I wanted to”, he said, “I remembered you looking at one like it in the mall last summer…that is the same one isn’t it?”
I thought back to when he must have seen me looking at this ring. I remembered many, many times looking at the gold initial rings in Gayfers department store, hoping to one day buy one for myself. I also remembered they were about $200.00! I felt so flushed and panicky. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond. There was no way I could accept such an expensive gift and then break up with him. I also knew that no department store would take back a gold ring with my initials on it. I was in a real quandary. All I could think about was how sweet he was to buy this ring and how horrible I was. Maybe I should just stay with him, I thought, but I knew that didn’t feel right…I was so confused.
“yes”, I replied “this is the exact ring, I can’t believe you remembered!” When I looked at his face in the dimly lit car I could see that he was beaming with pride. A nineteen year old boy, who had just successfully purchased his first ring to give a surprise…he had every reason to be proud. I put the ring on my right hand. It fit perfectly! “thank you!” I said, “its perfect!” Through all of my confusion and flip flopping back and forth as to what the right thing was, I was
genuinely grateful for this young man and the sacrifice he had made for me.
Right there, at that moment, I made the executive decision to keep the ring for a few days…I needed time to think and I for sure didn’t have the heart to give it back to him at that moment. Then, I thought about Devin and his calm assurance that everything would work out…well that was easy for him to say, I thought, he’s not sitting here holding a ring!! I hugged his neck and gave him a kiss…he deserved that much for sure…just for being a great guy if nothing else.
After the gift giving was over, he drove me home and we said our good nights. I walked in the house and went straight to my mothers bed where she was down for the night. “Mom”, I whispered as I gently patted her arm, “are you asleep?” Of course she said, “no”, and got out of bed to see what was wrong. “you are never going to believe what he gave me for Christmas”, I said in a distressed tone. “what?” she replied. I took my right hand out of my coat pocket and showed her the ring. Her mouth flew open in shock and said, “oh my goodness! That is just beautiful!” then she thought for a minute and asked the million dollar question, “what are you going to do? Are you keeping it?”
I had no answers…the only thing I did have was time…and very little of it. I would need to make my decision within the week. Once again, I shook all of the scary thoughts out of my head, and in the spirit of Scarlet O’hara, I decided not to worry about it…until tomorrow.
Before I knew it, my Christmas break was coming to an end. All gift giving and receiving was now over. Every holiday food in the house had been ingested and the Christmas decorations were once again stored in the attic. Devin and I had talked on the phone multiple times. I had chosen not to tell him about the ring…I didn’t need anymore questions filling my head…I had to do this on my own. We were both anxious to see each other and pick up where we left off. The hometown boy and I had seen each other a few more times and talked on the phone many times as well. The last week had given me time to think and come to some conclusions. Although non of this was easy…with the help of the Lord and lots of prayer…I knew what I had to do. There were no more questions or turning back now.
It was the day before my scheduled flight back to school, and hometown boy and I had planned for one last date. We had dinner and then went to a movie which was difficult for me to enjoy with this looming dread hanging over my head like an anvil. As our evening was coming to a close I asked if he could pull over so we could talk. My hands were sweaty and my heart was pounding. He pulled over and turned the car off. He asked me what was wrong, so I swallowed hard and said, “this past semester has brought with it a lot of changes for me, and it is no secret, to either one of us, that our dreams and callings are taking us into two totally different directions. I believe God’s will for me is to be in some sort of full-time ministry and your dream is to join the Merchant Marines…it just doesn’t make sense for us to continue thinking that this relationship will work. We have no common goals or dreams. I watched his face, searching for some sort of clue as to what he might be thinking…I waited for a rebuttal…nothing. He just sat there expressionless. I continued, “I have been thinking about this and praying about this for some time now and I feel this is the only reasonable answer.” I took the ring off of my hand and handed it to him. “I’m so sorry about the ring. I love it and you did such an amazing job picking it out but I think you should try to take it back.” He looked up at me and shook his head and said, “no, I want you to keep it. I bought it for you, it’s yours.” His whole countenance had changed, it brought tears to my eyes as I said, once again, “I’m so sorry.”
He did not argue. He did not try to persuade me. He just had one request. I was scheduled to leave very early the next morning for the airport, he asked me if we could meet one last time before I left. I agreed and we parted ways.
Well before daylight, the next morning, I had all of my belongings loaded in my dads car ready to leave. My mom and I hugged necks and shed some tears. We would not see each other again until spring break…which seemed like an eternity. Soon I would be in the sky and once again far from home. On the way to the airport my dad and I stopped at a neutral location for the hometown boy and I to say our goodbyes. We pulled over in the designated parking lot and waited for him to arrive. Within a matter of seconds he drove up and I crawled out of the car. I felt like i was walking the green mile, as i made my way from my car to his. He had thought about what i said all night and had hoped that maybe I had changed my mind and came to my senses. “are you sure we can’t make this work?” he asked. I was now more confident than ever about my decision. I knew I was doing the right thing. I gave him a half-smile and said, “I’m sorry, but yes I’m sure.” we said a few more parting words, then I turned around and got back in my car. As we drove away, he never moved, he never looked up, he just stood there. Just before we drove out of sight, I turned around to take one last look…there he stood, leaning against his car with his head in his hands. That was the single hardest thing I had ever had to do…even though I knew it was the right thing to do.
That was the last time I ever saw him and we never spoke again. And by the way, I still have the ring. To be continued…