I’ve been having so much fun with these tweet-cloud and status-summary and whatever end-of-the-year things that I’ve gotten a bit carried away. This cloud from Wordle isn’t even just for this year, and it’s not the top words from the blog, it just picks words from the blog and weights them by usage. That said, it sure is pretty.

With This Ring …

Once upon a time …

And my response was something like: Absolutely, 100%, without any reservation, most definitely, YES.

So after the kissing and hugging, he showed me my ring and my response was, “Wait, that’s not my ring!” I had already seen what I though were to be my engagement rings because I was there to pick them out. So when I looked in the box and those two weren’t there, I was so confused and panicked thinking something had happened to my rings. What I didn’t know was that David had purchased my engagement ring already and the other two I picked out were just accent rings if I chose to wear it that way!!! It took him a while to convince me that I got to keep the one he was giving me right then.

— Susanna, 20 January 2009

Where to start? Once upon a time, a man bought some rings as a declaration of his love for a woman. She put them on as a declaration of her love for him, and as a sign of their commitment to each other.

Unfortunately, the fairy tale sort of fell apart there. The rings were taken off again, and confined to drawers and boxes and bags and ultimately forgotten and ignored.

But, eventually, something must be done with them. And that’s where the problem arises.

Among my faults, I am a sentimental man. And I am, at this point, quite OK with the fact that the rings are not being used for their original intended purpose. But it’s still difficult figuring out how to end the story. The ending should be fitting of the beginning. The rings were a good thing. I was proud of them. She was happy with them. We were excited about them. And they were not intended to be a temporary thing. So the idea of having to work to sell them was a very unappealing possibility. The idea of pawning them would be to officially seal that the would-be fairy tale had ended dismally and tragically.

And then I heard about With This Ring: “So you’ve come to this site and your wondering what we’re all about? Maybe you’ve heard that we’re about giving away our wedding rings so that others may live. Maybe you’ve heard that we’re about giving clean water to the children of Africa by providing water wells that will last for years to come.”

I’ll admit, I’m a wimp. I don’t know that I’m to the point where I could take a wedding ring off my finger and donate it. I don’t know that I’m there yet. But, you know what, right now, I don’t have a wedding ring on my finger. But I did have a small bag of engagement rings.

And Ali Eastburn, founder of With This Ring, gave me the chance to do something incredible. To turn the rings, laden with disappointment and hurt, into a good thing. Rather than the story ending with price negotiations at a jewelry store or the rings sitting on a shelf at a pawn shop, the rings will be helping to save lives.

There’s another neat twist in this story. Heather was talking to me not that long ago about the fact that she had heard several things recently about the need for safe drinking water in underdeveloped nations, and that she felt moved to support the cause. There’s a simple beauty in being able to close one chapter in my life in a way that ties in to the beginning of another.

For me, the rings are laden with history. I gave them to Susanna when I proposed to her. She had them resized by selling the gold from the ring given her by her previous fiancé, whom she’s now again planning to marry. Too much history and drama to put on three lovely pieces of gold and diamond. And when I put them in the mail, they leave that history behind. They go to eventually find new owners, as nothing but three beautiful rings, that were donated to save lives.

It’s not the ending that I originally envisioned at the beginning of the story, once upon a time.

But, thanks to the work done by With This Ring, they may give a new, deeper meaning to the other end of the story —

And they all lived happily ever after.