The Anti-Horcrux: Symbols of Love Lost in the World
Have you ever lost a beloved trinket someone gifted you? What happens when we lose symbols of love?
One day, when I was a young twenty-something, I spent the day window-shopping with my grandma. We meandered through antique shops and boutiques in her hometown. At one point, I found something I had long wanted. I saw a Claddagh ring. My grandma wasn’t familiar with the symbolism behind the Claddagh, so I explained how it represented the relationship I dreamed of. In the center is a heart, symbolizing love. It is held by two hands for friendship and topped with a crown for loyalty. I’m a sucker for symbolism to begin with, but the Claddagh also appealed to my romantic soul and my Irish roots.
I admired the ring for a bit before putting it back. It wasn’t expensive, maybe $20, but I thought to myself that a Claddagh ring bought by the wearer seemed sad. I told my grandma I didn’t really need one, but I liked the meaning behind it. I had no great love in my life anyhow.
At the next birthday or Christmas, at whatever was the next time we generally give gifts in my family, Grandma gave me a little box with the Claddagh ring.
I laughed. My great love was my grandma. It was a bit ridiculous and yet enchanting. I treasured that ring. Our relationship is like that ring: unconditional love, encouraging friendship, tenacious loyalty.
For over eight years, I wore that ring religiously. It rarely left my hand. Then today, I took it off with my bracelet and another loved ring. I placed them in my purse while I was getting a manicure. Jewelry on my fingers and wrists only get in the way for such an activity. I slipped them into my purse, carried on with the manicure, paid, and left. Later, I was walking around the public library when I realized how naked I felt. I rummaged through my purse. I found my silver bracelet, the ring I got from my parents when I graduated college, and… nothing. I was in the Biography section at the library, tearing each item out of my purse trying to locate. Nothing. It was gone!
I called the nail salon. I drove back to the nail salon, retracing my steps, checking the ground where I walked. …You know, in case the ring was a hopper and jumped out along the way from one location to another. No luck. I even went back to the library to check again, to ask around. Nothing.
My ring, at this point, is gone. Could it still return to me? Yes. Is it likely? No.
I’m a bit of a sentimental person. I don’t cherish items in the same way as everyone else. I find more value in something that was given out of love than something with a high price tag. Because at the end of the day, I love the intangibles in life more than the tangibles. My ring was merely a symbol of something intrinsic. Even if it was made of expensive metal and gems, it was merely a symbol of what does matter.
I’m disappointed in my recklessness that led to me losing my ring. I’m sad it’s gone. But I recognize that it’s just a bit of worn metal that I’ve lost. I have not lost the meaning, I have not lost the love behind that ring.
I am blessed by the intangibles in my life. I have people who support me, who encourage me, who believe in me, who love me. I have experiences where I have met interesting people, seen beautiful sites, and encountered intriguing ideas. The items I have that remind me of those things are merely items. I really don’t need the souvenirs from an adventure to remind me of that adventure. I only need to look in the mirror, reflect on my thinking, consider who I am. Those moments and people that I treasure are within me, they have shaped me. I am who I am because I have been loved so completely by my family. I am who I am because I have seen another culture. I have been irrevocably shaped by the meaning behind the sentimental items I keep. If I were to lose the items that represent my most treasured memories, I have not lost the memory. Instead I have released an item of love into the world. May it be found, treasured, and bring someone joy.
I essentially live in a world of the anti-Horcrux. A Horcrux is a viciously sinister item from the world of J. K. Rowling. A Dark wizard or witch places a bit of his or her soul in an item to obtain immortality. Each one is created by doing the most montrous act: murder. It fractures the soul so a piece can be placed in a tangible object. Its creator could not be killed if the Horcrux is intact.
In comparison, my anti-Horcruxes are items gifted out of love. They came without expectation, they came without strings attached. They were freely and wholly given. They are items infused with love, the most pure thing, the one thing that even Voldemort, the most infamous wizard, cannot defeat. When I am separated from them, I am no less whole.
Today, I was separated from one of my anti-Horcruxes. A small callus and the white untanned circle of skin on my right ring finger is all that proves it once existed. I refuse to feel self-pity over its loss. It is disappointing, but its loss is nothing in comparison to losing the relationship, than losing the love, friendship, and loyalty. I still have all that the ring symbolized. I am grateful. I still have the love. I am at peace.
Sometimes, it is easy to become overly-distraught over the minor in our lives. Sometimes it is easier to focus on the minor losses, as they are easier to comprehend and make sense of, than to try to process the great losses.
Some of us have lost the relationship, but not the ring. Some of us have been betrayed by the ones who love us. Some of us have watched relationships become estranged, some of us have had people walk out. Some of us have discovered that the ring was a lie, was a false promise. They are left heartbroken with a solitaire diamond.
I am not generally reckless with the items I value. I do treasure them, because I treasure the sentiment behind them. I had my Claddagh ring for nearly a decade. As much as I move, as much as I travel, I have kept it safe. I fiddled with it during the turbulence of my flight back from Scotland. I toyed with it during the nerves of interviewing for jobs and meeting new people. I twisted it around and around on my hand as I stood at my sister’s service listening to the condolences of strangers who loved her. The love in that ring carried me through peaks and lows. The love in that ring is still here.
I am blessed that I didn’t lose the love instead of the ring. I cannot even imagine what it would mean to live my life where I had the tangible but not the intangible. How would I have been brave enough and strong enough to endure, to explore, to rise?
So my ring is gone. It’s just a ring. In the big picture, I have nothing to grieve in its loss. In the big picture, I am just glad for the brief time it lived with me.