Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult, gut-wrenching things any of us will have to face. But in the gray and gloom of grief, tokens of remembrance can bring immense comfort.
For Patrick Waddell, it’s the wedding rings he and his wife Sheri exchanged 16 years before colon cancer took her life. He’s been wearing the rings soldered together on a chain around his neck since Sheri died in 2016.
“Sheri lit up a room. Everyone wanted to talk to her,” Patrick remembers. “There isn’t a moment I don’t think about her in some way.”
As you can imagine, Patrick treasures those rings. They’re a piece of his heart, after all. Unfortunately, that piece went missing in July when the North Carolina dad took a trip to Myrtle Beach with his daughters, 11-year-old MacKenzie and 8-year-old Madison. But surprisingly, he stayed calm.
“I know that’s hard for some people to understand,” he said. “But Sheri lives in my heart. I love my rings, but if I never found them, it’s not like I lost her. You got to let go, and let God. I just knew they would find their way back.”
Still, Patrick wanted them back — and he had to try. So he put out a call for help on Facebook, asking anyone in the area to keep their eyes out. “If anyone picked them up I can’t begin to tell you what it would mean to get them back,” he wrote. Thousands came through and shared the post, which quickly went viral.
Patrick couldn’t believe his luck when he received a call from Graham Golf Cars a few days later. They had the rings! An anonymous Good Samaritan had seen them lying in the parking lot but hadn’t believed they were real. They changed their mind as soon as they saw Patrick’s Facebook post, though, and returned to tell an employee. Tires had left the jewelry a little worse for wear, but they were still intact, and that’s what was important to Patrick.
“I can foresee a jeweler asking to fix them and make them well again. To which I’ll say the rings are like a marriage. They’re real. They aren’t perfect, but every flaw tells a story. In all the highs and all the lows the journey is what molds the partnership and all the imperfections make them perfection.”
Patrick plans to hang the rings in a shadow box at home from now on. That way, they’ll always stay safe, and he’ll never have to worry about losing that piece of his heart, his wife, again.
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