A memory of when I asked my (then) girlfriend to be with me, forever.
|Okay...so, have and seat a ready yourselves for yet another long post. This here, is just one of my tattoos. (not pictured, as I don't yet know how to post images with text on this site)
It might not be much in the way of great detail, but it means a lot to me. That's why it sits over my heart. It is the face of a ring, a ring I gave to my wife Jessie when I asked her to marry me.
We were on holiday when I proposed to her, and it was somewhat spontaneous, asking her to marry me. So don't think I was being cheap by giving her just any random ring and that would be that...
Back in 2005, Jessie and I had been dating for a couple of years now. She had a few days of vacation time she could use, so we decided to head over to Ireland to visit her grandmother and have a nice holiday in the great island country.
By the way, I had been to Ireland before meeting Jess. So I had already fallen in love with this country. Now that Jessie and I were heading there on holiday, I was even more excited about touring the sights.
In Ireland, we spent some time with her gran. She told me stories of Jessie when she was a child. How much of a terror she was. Funny stuff. Grandma Mullaney also told me stories of the countryside. Tales of supposed "lords" that still roamed the land and guarded the hills.
This was all very intriguing, and I wanted to stay there and hear more stories of both Jessie and of the Ireland that her grandmother knew. Partly because I was fascinated about these stories, but more so because I was so enamored with grandma's accent. If you know me, you know I'm a sucker to foreign accents. Us Americans have such boring dialects.
Anyway, the next day Jessie and I headed out to wander the country. Tour new places we had not been to before. Dublin, Cork, Galway; I had already been to all of those spots in the past. So we headed straight into the heart of the island, and just get lost in the sights we came across. There were a number of wondrous looking castles that I'd not set foot in before. The few we stopped at, and the couple of them where the caretaker was present, we were treated to yet more stories of Ireland's amazing, yet sordid, history.
Taking a break from the sights - as if you could, when everywhere you are and everywhere you look in Ireland is so beautiful - we stopped to have lunch.
As we ate, the lady at the shop was telling us about this castle that overlooked a great valley just a ten minute's walk away. She said most tourists never get a chance to see it as it's out of the way of the main road. She complimented us on how "bright" we looked together, and told us we must see the castle. I didn't know what she meant by 'bright', but as Jessie and I looked at each other, we just smiled and agreed. It was fun to get lost in this amazing country.
This nice lady directed us to head down the road and head hang a left. We drove for a little bit before we saw the first view of this castle. Jess and I now looked up this slight incline at what was yet another majestic sight of Irish history. Dunamase Castle. That was the name of this place, this great castle; that, if I remember correctly, was a little bigger than the last few we had seen.
I won't go into much detail of this castle, as it's not really the focus of this story. But I will say this: it was really a remarkable sight, just as all of Ireland is. As we made our way to the actual castle section, past the outer wall - what is now left of it - it was all inclined slightly. You could just see over the walls how the height of the castle cleared above the whole area.
Arriving to the main portion, we met up with the small group of people that were also visiting this place. We learned a little bit of its history - "little," because we arrived after the tour had started - and as the group moved along, we held back a bit. I wanted to see if we could find a place where we could clearly see the countryside. We trailed in search of a way to the top of the castle.
That was easy. We just rounded the corner through a passage, and there were the steps to the upper level. Now getting a clear view of the valley below the castle, I was awestruck of the sight I saw. I had seen Ireland's breathtaking countryside before, but up there in that castle, looking out at all that rich green landscape, that was a thing of wonderment. Looking out as far as you could see, it was all just green fields and farmlands. An ocean of grass, it seemed to be. Simply astonishing...
Jessie and I stood there at the top of the castle, and we just looked out at the magnificent view. I remember I turned to look at her, and she had this big smile on her face. My god, I thought, I was so lucky to have this beautiful girl by my side; here in this marvelous place. I felt so alive and so happy. I looked back at the landscape and it dawned on me that even though I am so warmed by this country, I know in just a couple day's time, I will have to say goodbye to it all once again.
Somewhere in those convoluted thoughts, it came to me what I really wanted. I realized that what I really loved, what I really wanted to see forever was not a landscape of Irish fields. No, it wasn't a "what," it was a who. Her. Jessie.
She was still looking towards the land when I turned to her and spoke a few simple words.
"Yeah," she acknowledged.
Her eyes grew wide. "What did you say?!" She gasped.
And so I spoke: "Jessie, look at this place. It's just the most outstanding sight I have ever seen. But I know I have to say goodbye to this great land. I realized, I don't ever want to say goodbye to you again. Only goodnight, as we fall asleep together for the rest of our lives. I want to wake up when I'm forty five and have you by my side. I want your beautiful soul to be the first thing I see in the mornings. I've fallen in love with a girl that makes me feel like I'm living in a dreamland, and I've never been more sure of anything in my life than this. I love you Jessie. Will you marry me?"
Somewhere around that last sentence, Jess broke out in tears and smiles. Suffice it to say...she said yes. I mean, she questioned me if I was sure, but I told her my heart was always hers. And that I will love her forever, till we're old, withered and cannot climb here (to the castle top) anymore.
"Yes I will marry you, yes!" She declared. Ten years later and I still remember how excited Jessie was as she first said yes. Her eyes were a bit red, but they were from the emotions of joy. When she spoke, she was half choking with tears and joyous laugh. The slight wind there at the castle point made several strands of her hair dance in her face, and she kept having to clear them away with her hand...I loved that. And there at the top of the castle Dunamase, we kissed for the first time as an engaged couple...
"Oh my god, I don't have a ring," I said to her. My proposal was so unexpected and so unplanned, It didn't occur to me that I needed a ring. It came to me then, to look around us to see if there was a flower or something with a long stem I could use to wrap in a circle and form a ring - you know, like it always happens in the films. But as this was no rom-com, there was nothing around us but dirt, rocks and a couple of cigarette butts. Maybe I could use those to wrap around her finger...no, they were too small.
"It's okay, I don't need a ring," she said as she wiped the last of the tears away. But I knew she must have a ring. I stood there for a couple of seconds, contemplating as I looked around once again in search for anything that could make a circle, or even a crescent; but there was still nothing to be found.
It dawned on me then, something that I remember seeing with the side of my eye as we first arrived to her grandmother's place.
"I have an idea. Come on, let's head back into town," I said to her.
"What, why? we're not getting married right now are we?" Jessie questioned. "I want to plan."
"No you silly girl, come on let's just head down. I just thought of something."
We exit the castle and jump back into the car and jam as fast as we can back to the main road. Or as fast as our shitty little rental car can take us. The thing was not fast at all.
Earlier in our trip, as we were wandering the town of Wicklow with Jessie's grandmother, I remember spotting this small little tourist shop. A quick glance at the place and I recall seeing a bunch of silver looking pieces and the sort, just by the same window we had walked by. Now, we were headed there. She didn't know it though.
As we arrive at the shop, I tell Jessie to hold back a second and wait for me outside.
"Really!? What are you up to?" She said.
"Trust me." I replied. "This will be awesome."
I still remember how big her smile was during the ride into town. Jessie knew I was up to something, in search for a ring, but she wasn't quite sure what I was doing. So, she waited outside while I ran into the shop to look at the jewelry I saw earlier.
Most of what I saw was basic silver rings. Most likely hand made right there in that little shop. There were some pieces with intricate designs of Irish knots and crosses, but by the look of them, they were all non-expensive items. Pressed for time, I grabbed one of the rings that didn't have any Celtic designs on it, and, that I knew would fit Jessie's hand.
With the proper gear now, I headed back to this wonderful girl who was waiting outside. She peered into the window a couple of times while I was inside, so she had obviously known by now what the hastily return to town was about. As I walked out the door of the shop, Jessie's face was as bright and as lovely as I can ever remember. I guess this is what the lady at the sandwich shop was speaking of.
Her innocent smile was hidden behind her hand as she anticipated what was coming. I walked up to her and spoke again those few and heavy words.
"Jessie, my love...will you marry me?"
I held the ring in my open palm, and as she looked at it with glittering eyes (as an expected sign of joyful tears), she calmly replied, "Yes, of course I'll marry you." And gave me this warmest hug.
I asked Jessie for her hand, and placed the ring on her finger. It was a little loose, but it held on just fine. We kissed once again, as a properly engaged pair...
Jubilant together, we drove back to grandma Mullaney's, and told her the news. She would be the first of a half dozen Jessie would go on to phone in the following hours...
Once we were back home in San Francisco several days later, I went out and bought my new fiancé a proper engagement ring. Diamonds, clarity, white gold, the whole package. And just as before when I presented her the first ring, I asked Jessie to marry me. In the end, I asked my lovely girl to marry me three times. And every single time her face lit up with excitement as she agreed.
It's funny. A thought came to me that third instance. Because I had asked her so many times, I thought she would say no just to be cute or something. But she didn't.
"I will," Jessie replied this time around.
And just like the first time, she spent the rest of the day showing off her ring to our friends and her family.
Jessie now had two engagement rings. Though one of them was just a temporary filler, she still remained fixed on wearing it. She wore her diamond fitted band on her left hand (the traditional finger), and the silver ring from Ireland on the opposite hand.
"You know you don't have to wear that ring anymore, now that you have a proper diamond one," I explained.
"Yes," Jessie clarified, "but I love seeing it on my hand everyday. It's the first ring you gave to me when you asked me to marry you...the second time. It's a symbol of that moment."
...We married a little less then a year later, and were together for just about five years after that. Jessie never took off that first "engagement" ring from her hand. I mean, not literally, but yeah, it was always fixed on her finger; just as her wedding band on her other.
This ring that I picked up at a quaint little shop in Ireland for 25 euros, which is about $33 American, went on to mean so much to my darling wife. In that short time before the wedding, Jessie and I would be cuddled together somewhere - in bed, on the couch or out on the town - and she would raise both hands together in front of her and comment, "I have two rings of love. Thank you baby." I smiled...
...When Jessie passed away, I was handed all her belongings after the...well...I saw her ring and placed it on my finger, just as she wore it. I wept, in my distraught state.
I wore her ring through my depression and my suffering. When I would glance at my hand, I would see the ring, and remember all of those happy moments. When I asked Jessie to marry me, three times. The look on her face, as she was pressed on the shop's window where I bought the thing. The way she, herself, looked at the ring and remembered how our marriage began.
The loss of my wife though, along with the loss of my best friend Matt, far eclipsed any joy that I remembered. So the depression kept winning.
It wasn't until this past year (2013) that I finally began to feel better, and with those happy memories in the back of my mind; I was able to rejoin society - in a sense. I found a way to live again, a new life; a new job. I was able to find some light of hope. But somewhere in the commotion of packing and moving and all that, I accidentally broke this silver ring I wore, that belonged to my wife.
The band was thin and the silver was far too fragile for my hands, I guess. I still kept it on my finger though, even if it was now loose fitting.
This simple little ring from Ireland that came to mean so much to my wife, came to mean even more to me, now that she was gone. So...I had the image of its design tattooed on my chest. Rather than having Jessie's name etched on my skin, this would be just the equivalent...
I lost the ring several months after having the tattoo done. I had a feeling I would end up losing it, in it's broken condition. Everytime I reached for any pockets or maneuvered in such a way, it would get caught on something. Still, I was once again heart broken and devastated when I noticed that it was gone. The depression came back, and I fell in deep once again.
With help though, I saw my way through and fought to keep looking up once again. I dug myself out, and let time patch what it could of this black hole inside of me once more. I didn't have the ring anymore, but I felt it was okay. Because as I look in the mirror and see my tattoo, I smile, just like I did when I would look at my hand and see Jessie's ring.
This inexpensive silver band meant a lot to my wife, as it did to me. So, this image on my skin means all the same. I will never ever forget my wife, as long as I see this ink on my skin. I'm am happily scarred in this light...
...Jessie was so much better at retelling the story of how I asked her to marry me though. She would add that there was a coffee place next to the shop where I gave her the ring, that I got down on one knee and asked to marry her. Jess would also pepper in that there was a couple in the coffee shop that saw us and began to clap when I gave her the ring.
I didn't take a knee on any of the three occasions I asked to marry her. Hell, it didn't even occur to me. And there were no people in a coffee shop that wasn't there. It would have been really cool though, to have that audience. Like a movie, I say.
I was always quite intrigued and amazed whenever my wife told the story to new people. Little things like that would always change. But I knew it was all for love, and Jessie always had a big smile on her face.
People asked me if I was nervous when I proposed to Jessie. No, not really. I mean, I was a bit "frazzled" when I began to tell her how much she meant to me, but when the thought came to me that I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life, I was sure of that. There was no doubt of wanting to be with her forever...
...And so folks...this is how I came to become the most luckiest husband there could ever exist. Well, in my opinion. I hope this was a good read to any of you that stuck around through all my pointless, and extensive babble.
This, by the way - our trip to Ireland, and the subsequent engagement - all took place in the summer months. I bring this memory up now though, because I received something quite surprising in the mail the other day from Jessie's family. Something that ties in (very much) with this moment. But I think I will save that for tomorrow's post. I'm sure those of you who are still reading might be tired of hearing my monotonous chatter for one night...