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No note or card.

Or ring box.

Just a ring and confused girl on tape.

And a puzzle pieced together years later. Maybe. If my mom’s memory still serves her.

About four months ago, I popped in a tape with old Christmas Eve footage. Typical nostalgia buff. As I ate lunch, I buzzed through Christmas 1993. Where I was unusually quiet. Not myself. Irritable. Days earlier I’d been released from the hospital. At times I seemed happy. Then low.

I was given the first gift of the night. My dad signalled for me to face our television-style VHS camera. I shook the 5 x 7 box, then I tore into the present with my tacky long red nails. And a ring tumbled onto the grey carpet.

At first glance – a sterling silver ring. A squiggle. Resembling a bumpy road. But no ring box – unusual for my parents.
even if we can't be togetherBut there were comments about a guy I recently broke up with. Was there a note? And New Year’s Eve. All vague.

Confused, I turned from the camera and showed my sister the ring.

“Let’s see. Nice,” said my sister. “New Year’s Eve? What?”

“We were supposed to … never mind,” I said. “Camera’s on.”

No! I had no idea what was supposed to happen on NYE. Or who gave me the ring. And what did it have to do with the guy? When I thanked mom and dad, they were silent.

I stopped the tape and bolted to my memory boxes. The ring was in a coin envelope with the other silver rings I’d wear every second day in grade 12 and college. Alternating with my gold jewellery.

I sleuthed online. It wasn’t just a ring. It was a wave ring. The puzzle started to fall together.

And there was an imprint inside. I downloaded a magnifying glass app – 10K.

The next time mom visited, I dragged her into my bedroom. And after triggering her memory, she confirmed, “Yes, I think it was from Marcus. I’m pretty sure.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” I asked. “And we were broken up. How did you get it? And-”

“Tessa, why does this matter now?” she asked. “It was so long ago.”

I shrugged and tucked the wave into the jewellery box I inherited from my Baba. “I never thanked him. That’s all.”

“I never understood why you broke up with him.” Way to pour acid on the wound, mother. “But what’s done is done.”

If my mom’s memory is accurate, I was given a symbolic gift twenty-two and a half years ago. Unique. Like the Iron Ring he wears on his left hand. Becoming more and more worn over time. Mine is a three layer wave ring – popular with water sports. He was summer. I was winter.

It saddens me when people rid their lives of mementos and photos from past relationships. I’m a throwback girl. I have a scrapbook of my close exes because they shared moments of my life. If I erased them, I’d have empty spaces. Months and years of gaps.

But I don’t have a photo of the guy who presumably gave the silver wave ring. Who visited me in the ICU between university exams. Who, I’m sure, lit candles and prayed I’d survive a five-and-a-half hour brain surgery. Who I pushed away. Who hung onto the hope of a reconciliation for months.

However, I hold onto memories. Of the night we met. Our first kiss. When I dared to believe Cinderella found her Prince. When I stayed out into the early morning hours with him, and I wasn’t surrounded by a pumpkin or field mice. A moment immortalized in my yearbook graduation-bio.

As for mementos, I have two handwritten letters. One delivered in person, the other arriving on Valentine’s Day. And a Christmas card from the ICU. I ate the Wunderbar – and when I moved, the parrot was left under my bed and it disappeared.

However, I possibly have a silver wave ring.

But why does this matter now? Would a ring have changed the past? How I felt? Eased my bitterness? Kept my emotions in-check? I can’t answer that question. I really can’t.

Because I still have a twenty-two and a half year-old bottle of Drakkar Noir.

His Christmas gift.