The Diamond

On April 11, 1999 I said “I do” to my love, and he said “I do” to me, vowing to stick together no matter what- poverty, sickness, and whatever else we might have to face. To steal the lyrics of U2- we were two souls too smart to be in the realm of certainty, even on our wedding day. And yet, we were barely conscious. So much we didn’t know.

It was an amazing, unique, and quaint ceremony. I didn’t want it to ever end. If I could have crawled in and curled up, frozen in the moment for all eternity, I would have done it. The next best thing: re-create some semblance of the moment at least every five years, just to remember. So I made another kind of vow- to renew those sentiments and all the intent behind them every five years. And life marched forward.

Before we made it to the five year mark, I was stricken down, hard, with cancer. Sick, dying. In my mind, already dead. But I don’t turn back from vows. On April 11, 2004 we set out to Three Rivers, him at the helm, me holding on, tears falling back into the wind as the motor vibrated my entire body and the lines zipped by under my feet. What a windy road that was. And the smells! I took in every single one as I thought about what the future might truly hold for him, for me. That’s the thing about our motorcycle rides- it’s a shared experience, but one we share silently. Spring chill still in the air, through some orange groves, hills of open grazing cattle, we met up and followed alongside the river, with all its twists and turns and patches of serene still waters followed by rocky white waters. Sun glistening through the trees, we arrived at the spot, a little covered patch of grass at The White Horse Inn, right next to the river- me with fresh radiation burns, hair starting to sprout back on my head, and now absent both my breasts. How different my body was from the day five years before when I slipped on that camisole under my bridal dress. How different we both were. Complete strangers, a husband and wife met us there to officiate, to facilitate the ceremonious aspects of what was already natural between us. Perhaps they were battle weary too, because they projected somewhat distant and even defensive when they first met us there. But as our story unfolded, the edges softened. They were witness to an intimate moment of truth, when he looked into my eyes, and I looked into his, and we truly knew the commitment required when one of us falls sick. The words, “until death do us part” echoed out, bouncing around in the chambers of all of our hearts, which were all on our sleeves by about that point. And then came the next part- he told me he wanted to buy me a ring, one to represent this five year anniversary. Something silvery and shiny, with lots of sparkle. It was a sweet sentiment, but I turned him down. “We just don’t know if you’re going to need that money to pay for burial or cremation expenses, so hold off. If we make it to ten, if I make it”, I told him, “then you know I’m going to expect it!”

On April 11, 2009 we stood in a quirky medieval-themed chapel at the Excaliber Hotel in Las Vegas- the same hotel we spent our honeymoon in. It took every penny we had just to get there. We shared the moment with all three young adult children, and a few others we gathered along the way. We made it into a family vacation, and it was fun, and memorable, and a genuine celebration of life. Our oldest son, a young 20, married his 18 year old bride just a few days prior, which would forever link our anniversary to theirs in an unforgettable way. Not only had I survived to renew my vows a second time, uttering them a third, I was able to witness the vows between my son and his new wife.

Oh, but that ring! I didn’t forget. A few months prior I had helped my son choose a ring for his future bride. It was lovely- classic, romantic, brilliant. In the shadow of the ring chosen for her, witnessing him place it on her finger, and feeling the full weight of the vows between them, any ring I could be gifted seemed so unnecessary at that point. I let it go with a mere passing mention, only intended to point out that I never imagined I’d truly live to see the ten, or much more to witness my firstborn son utter those vows to his own love.

A few years later my mom came to visit for Christmas and she brought a gift, wrapped in a tell-tale small jewelry box. I eagerly opened it and discovered a yellow gold pendant that contained a larger diamond with more sparkle and clarity than I could ever imagine being given by my mom. It far exceeded anything I had ever owned. That spectacular diamond had a story- it was the diamond my dad had given her more than 40 years earlier. She had it removed from the setting and placed as a pendant. My parents divorced when I was two. I don’t remember them ever being together. And yet, from their union I was conceived. In that moment I opened the box I was sure of its destiny. Someday I would again have it rightfully placed back into a ring- a three stone ring that would represent my past, present, and future. A perfect gift for the fifteenth, if I live long enough to see it!

That fifteenth was celebrated today, April 11, 2014. I’m still in cancer treatment, and that diamond still sits waiting in a safe place until it can become admired again. Cancer has taken so much from us. So much. Financial security is one. We simply don’t have the money to have the stone reset in a ring with two other diamonds. But cancer has gifted us so much too. Today, with so little money to plan an elaborate vow renewal, we enjoyed a short walk alongside a creek until we found an intimate spot to just stand for a few moments. Holding hands as we looked into one another’s eyes, we remembered what is important, and true. We remembered, I remembered that I can’t take a ring with me when I go. And the most important thing- the sparkle I saw in his eye, the clarity of his heart, and the brilliance of his soul- it was far more valuable than any diamond ring he could gift me. Fifteen years of marriage today. I am so thankful for every day of it.

A.K. Shaw


August 7, 2014


I originally wrote The Diamond on my anniversary: April 11, 2014. My mom suddenly and unexpectedly passed away after complications from surgery on April 14, 2014- the day of the full blood moon and just three days after I wrote this. (On a side note: My mom was born 9/9/49 and passed 4/14/14. My seven digit driver’s license had all 9’s and 4’s and a single 1 in it too).

About three weeks ago my youngest adult son found the stone on the right in this picture. It is a hard, loose, cut stone that shines with clarity and brilliance. He found it lying on the ground. He brought it home and was excited, hoping it was a diamond. He is quite interested in gemology as it is. We took it to a jeweler and it turns out it is a high quality 3/4ct CZ. I put it in a small bag and stuffed it in my jewelry organizer, holding it for my son until he decided what he wants to do with it.

Last night, as I was leaving my metastatic cancer support group, the facilitator right next to me, I looked down at the ground and guess what I saw? A loose, cut, hard stone. It was in the oddest place too- in between the slats on the floor in between the two automatic sliding doors of the hospital (the interior and exterior doors), right smack in the middle, where the highest traffic is. I picked it up and knew right away it wasn’t a cheap bedazzled kind of thing, but an actual hard, faceted stone. I told the facilitator I was going to take it home and give it to my son- I knew he would be so excited and amazed that I had found one too! But as soon as I got to my car I was struck hard by the serendipity, but even more, the odds of such a remarkable event occurring twice in such a short period of time. Who finds a loose CZ just lying on the ground? And twice within weeks, miles apart? The first thing I thought when I got to my car was, ‘it’s mom!’ But I woke up this morning still scratching my head in wonderment. I didn’t understand the meaning, the relevance. It wasn’t until I started talking about the curiosity of the circumstance that I remembered writing The Diamond, and now the curiousness thickens in light of this.

But I don’t know what it means, if anything besides just a ‘hello, I’m here’? These stones are two different sizes. I don’t know how to put that in a single setting. And they’re not diamonds (assuming the one I found last night is not). I know there’s a more specific message for me. But I don’t understand why my son found one, and I found one, and why the sizes are different. What is the message, and what am I supposed to do with these beautiful loose stones? Did my mom hear my desire to have a three stone ring and provide the two additional stones to not just grant my wish, but let me know she’s here and hearing?



June 15, 2017

The original diamond still sits in a safe place while the two gifted czs are also in a safe place. But on June 15, 2017 I cleared out our home office, along with my oldest son, and we took all the stuff to storage. While there I wanted to look for specific photos. Taking the time to go through a few boxes, my son asked questions about my childhood experiences, about his father, about what could possibly have led me to marry his father when I was a young 15 years old. Because my mother was the central figure throughout my childhood, much of our discussion centered around her. No matter who she was and what our relationship was and was not, my mother was a significant influence in my life and so much of who I am today is a result of her presence in my story.

Well, on the way down from our indoor storage unit, as soon as the elevator door opened, I saw this crystalline pink heart in the threshold. We were the only people at the storage facility when we arrived, and when we left. I walked through this threshold three times prior to seeing this little sparkly gift.

I immediately took a photo, and then picked it up. The back of it is painted silver, and it feels plastic. But there isn’t any holes or obvious points of break, so I’m not sure how this sparkly heart would be used or attached to anything. Very curious. And it’s particularly curious because it was so prominent in the threshold of the elevator and I am a very observant person. My son and I both pushed large carts through the threshold into the elevator, both full and empty when we came back down to get a second load. It was after we came back down to leave, after I had spent nearly an hour talking about my childhood and my mother, that the heart showed itself to me.


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