This pic is from 2017, right after we got back together, and right before we went ring shopping, again. In honor of Valentine's Day weekend, I thought I'd share our "second chance" rings story. If your love isn’t a perfect, without struggle, fairytale of Facebook-able love, you’re not alone. I’ll take real, messy, honest love any day. I’m so grateful for our path—even the hard bits.
This is an excerpt from my book, Little Voices:
The ride down to Phoenix felt easy and fun, which was in such stark contrast to how I’d been living. I hadn’t gotten away for a weekend vacation in a long time. If anyone needed it, Scott and I did. We were inching our way back to one another, spending more and more time together while I was living in my own apartment with Grace.
Talking about what we endured during our time apart wasn’t all that hard. He was and has always been my best friend. We pledged to be completely open. He told me about the women he dated in Phoenix and Flagstaff, detailing some of the crazy escapades he experienced, and I slowly revealed all of the details of what I had lived.
He knew I endured a lot of emotional and psychological abuse, but I don’t think he understood the escalation of the abuse. After all, I didn’t tell him about the cops coming to my door until after I finally broke free from Tony. Many times, he would listen with tears in his eyes and then swoop me up in his arms and hug me tight. I was having to learn to trust all over again, even though I knew I could lean into Scott. My triggered reactions to closeness created panic attacks at times. I made sure he understood that I wasn’t reacting to him but rather anything that felt confining or controlling. Everything I’d buried deep for forty years was right at the surface. Thankfully, he didn’t take it personally. He simply wanted me to feel safe again.
After two hours of talking, laughing, and singing on the way to the hotel, we finally arrived ready for some fun in the sun. Our weekend was beautiful and I indeed felt free to be silly again for the first time in a long time.
Scott said he could see joy in me that had been lost. Being together again was both familiar and new, exciting and comfortable. Still, he could see pain and sorrow in my eyes at times, even though my light was returning.
As we were driving home, we stopped at a P.F. Chang’s restaurant just north of Phoenix. We were on cloud nine almost not believing where we were in our lives after all we'd been through. We still marveled at the fact that we never filed for divorce.
Over appetizers, I asked, “Hey, what would you think about getting rings again?”
Back in December of 2014, I had to sell our wedding rings, my engagement ring, and a few of my grandmother’s rings in order to pay rent shortly after we told the kids we were splitting up. At the time, I knew selling the only valuable things we owned was something I had to do to provide for our kids. I did it without hesitation, but it was still a very emotional moment for me.
After we talked about where we could get rings, we went back in time remembering how met and the story behind our first set of rings. I was fresh out of Ohio University in 1995 when I made my home in Charlotte, NC and met Scott at the not-so-classy Vinnie’s Sardine Bar. He got a call that night from a friend who invited him to join her and her new friend from Ohio—me—at the dive bar. He decided to pop by, even though his fellow housemates had other plans. He walked in looking strikingly handsome. I knew instantly there was something about him. We talked and laughed as if we’d known each other for years.
When we said our goodbyes in the parking lot, we promised to see each other again soon. He tells the story that when he got home, his roommates asked where he’d been. Without hesitation he said, “I just met the girl I’m going to marry.”
Four months later, we were sitting in his parents’ den in the sleepy town of Tallassee, Alabama. We were about to end a wonderful weekend with the seven-hour drive back to Charlotte, NC when he whispered in my ear, “Can I please tell them what we did? About looking at rings at the mall last week?”
I chuckled because I knew he couldn’t keep it a secret, even though he was the one suggesting not telling anyone. I smiled and nodded yes. Immediately, the room erupted in squeals, clapping, and hugs. Lots of hugs. Laughing, I said, “Whoa, hold up a minute; he hasn’t even asked me yet.”
Before we knew it, both sets of Scott’s grandparents and his aunt and uncle were on their way over to the house to celebrate. Scott and I were sent to the grocery store to buy champagne, but for what? Because we’d looked at rings? It was comical and fun so, naturally, we were both all in.
Loaded with bags of snacks and champagne, we made our way up the front stairs of Scott’s parents’ gorgeous southern home. Suddenly, he stopped me. He placed his bag on the step and got down on one knee. “Kiersten, will you marry me?” A smile spread across my face and without hesitation, I said yes. Now, we truly had something to celebrate!
We decided to spend one more night at his parents’ house while we celebrated our news, but it wasn’t lost on us that we were missing an important, traditional component of a proposal—the ring.
As it turned out, the only jewelry store in town was the same place that sold two generations of Hathcock men their wedding and engagement rings. We knew the perfect place to go in the morning.
Fast forward twenty-one years to Phoenix, Arizona and here we were again needing new rings. We knew what we needed to do and it didn’t involve a jewelry store. After shelling out two hundred and fifty dollars at the nearest Kohl’s, we walked to our car wearing new silver wedding bands and a cubic zirconia engagement ring. Even though we paid a fraction of what we did for our first set of rings, our new rings will always be priceless symbols of our second chance.