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I convinced myself that the wearing of two wedding rings, one thinner and obviously designed for smaller, more feminine, fingers told the world the whole story; our love and marriage was still alive but only one of us was now in a position to display the symbols of it.
After all, in the event that I was to pluck up the courage to ask a woman out, the presence of a wedding ring on my left hand would hardly be conducive to a positive response if she did not already know some of my story.There it will continue to display my love for Louise and confirm to the world, and myself, the fact that our marriage existed. To my disappointment, an internet search for the meaning and symbolism of a wedding band on the right ring finger did not confirm a universal understanding of the practice as a sign of widowhood.The idea, in fact, hardly seems even to impinge on the consciousness of those strange people from whom I now often feel so utterly removed - the non widowed.I may come home to an empty house every day, I may not have seen, heard or touched my wife in more than two years, but throughout that time I have only needed to glance at my ring finger to reassure myself that I am still married. Unlike some who quickly remove their ring, perhaps to place on a chain, mine has therefore remained firmly in place.This is not just about trying to convince myself that the link to Louise remains unbroken, that my status is unchanged. So strong has been the attachment that I could not even bring myself to remove it in order to properly clean a wound when I cut my finger.I was halfway through my lunchtime sandwich when I suddenly felt the disapproving stares from those squeezed in around me at the crowded cafe tables.
I had sat there dozens of times before doing the same thing, but it was only now that I suddenly realised how it must look to others; a middle aged man swiping through dating profiles on a phone, his brazen infidelity revealed by the wedding band on his ring finger.
In truth the public censure was probably more a product of my own imagination than the reality of our atomised and screen obsessed society - it's highly unlikely that anybody would have been inclined to raise their gaze from their own phone for long enough to catch sight of the content on mine.
But the fact that the thought occurred to me at all signifies a growing self consciousness about my wedding ring and confusion at the meaning it now conveys.
Instead, its much more likely to be done privately, almost furtively, at a random moment when the urge seizes me I expect that there will initially be guilt. Even just the writing of this post, the acknowledgement of the reality that time and distance inevitably and naturally bring about a degree of gradual separation, is painful.
Objectively the transfer of the ring is just one more marker in this lengthy and ongoing process. Many have long since been navigated while some, such as the sorting and disposal of Louise's possessions, are still to be braved.
How can there be when the closest I get to kissing my wife is her dressing gown, still on on the back of our bedroom door?