We finally made it backstage, in freshly scrubbed tights, hair carefully arranged in neat buns, and wearing costumes that had been hidden away for weeks. I settled Rose at a table with the rest of her dance class friends, ready for her first recital. Adi hung back, waiting to find her spot at a table. I pulled Rose’s water bottle and snack from my bag. Next, I reached in to grab her ballet slippers. That’s when I realized that one of my rings was missing.
Earlier that morning, as we drove to the dance recital, I told my husband how swollen my hands were. I then pried my engagement ring and wedding band from my ring finger and placed them on my pinky, where I forgot about them until the moment I realized my engagement ring was gone.
Time seemed to hold still. The colorful costumes around me turned into a blur, the busy hustle of excited dancers, suddenly paused. I looked down at my feet, hoping to see the sparkle of the diamonds catching the light. All I saw was the dusty wooden floors of the old warehouse.
“I lost my ring,” I said to no one but to everyone around me at the same time. I dug through my bag as other moms began combing the floor. I thought of someone finding my ring, perhaps thinking, “My lucky day.” I pictured myself sitting on the couch the night my husband gave me the ring, how he told me the story of buying the ring. Was it lost forever?
I didn’t see the ring in my bag, so I began to move back towards the entrance, retracing my steps. That’s when I realized that Adi was still following me. “I’ll get you settled in just a second,” I said. “I just need to find my ring.”
Along the way, I met a few dance teachers who also began to search for my ring. It was now a community affair. I headed back towards Rose, crouching down at her table to check the floor once again.
When this second look proved unsuccessful, I stood back out and dumped the contents of my purse, packed to the brim with all of the supplies needed to get three kids through a day full of dancing. As I rummaged through the snacks, shoes, reusable bags, and various shades of lipgloss starting to feel hopeless, another mom at the table called out, “There it is!” My eyes caught sight of the familiar shape of my ring.
I clutched it to my chest before squeezing it back onto my ring finger and hugging the moms around me, tears of relief springing to my eyes.
I threw the once organized items back into my bag and turned back to Adi. “We can get you ready to dance now,” I said as I led her to her table and helped her change into her ballet slippers.
When I finally made my way to my seat in the audience, I quickly recounted the events backstage to Wren and my husband as I felt the familiar weight of my ring on my finger.
When Rose tiptoed onto the stage a few minutes later, a shy smile peeking out from behind her plastic mask, I noticed the one thing I had forgotten in the events leading up to her making her stage debut…
I forgot to put on Rose and Adi’s ruby red lipstick…