‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CANNOT FIND THE RING!’ I texted back, with all caps, trying to appear calm.’: Young man recalls hilarious mishap before proposal, loses wife 2 weeks before wedding

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“I tried on my wife’s engagement ring. I mean… I didn’t intend to. I was going through some of her old jewelry looking for a certain piece and I freaked out. The ring was gone, as was her wedding band.

I remember that night so well…

July 28, 2012

It was just over 10 years from our first day together as boyfriend and girlfriend.

A teenage love that was so real, it stayed with us both even through the eight years we spent apart. I had purchased the ring about two months prior and I would take it out every night to look at it. It was beautiful, and I was so excited! The only woman I had ever loved was about to be my fiancé, and eventually my wife.

Courtesy John Polo

Michelle and I went to a fancy dinner that warm, but not too hot, summer evening .

‘We’re leaving the restaurant now, so probably about 2 hours,’ I texted my mom.

After dinner, we drove to the casino. We were out for my birthday celebration and although Michelle wasn’t big on gambling, she knew I liked it, so we decided to head there with an agreed amount to spend.

‘Well that was quick. I could have bought new shoes with that John,’ she joked as we headed out of the money pit.

‘It’s my birthday. Bite me,’ I quipped back with a smile.

The anxiety was starting to kick in. I had dreamt about watching Michelle walk down the aisle since I was 17 years old. When she broke up with me in high school, it shattered me to pieces.  Now, over 8 years later, after just turning 28, I was about to ask my dream girl to be my wife.

‘John, I can’t find the ring,’ my mom said via text in response to a message I sent her – letting her know we were about 45 minutes away.


After the recession of 2008, I ran into some financial problems, and I had to stay with my mom for a few months until I got back on my feet. Once I did, I found a great condo for rent in the same building that she lived. That building was the current residence for Michelle and I. Behind the building was a beautiful lake and that is where I was set to propose.

‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CANNOT FIND THE RING!’ I texted back – with all caps – trying to appear calm so that Michelle would not catch on.

You see,  my mom was to wait for my text, then take the ring that I had given her 5 minutes before we left that night, the 4-page letter I had written for Michelle and a number of votive candles to the table near the lake.

She was to light the candles and then head back upstairs before we arrived.

30 minutes later…

‘I still can’t find the ring, John.’


‘I need to run in this store real quick, stay in the car, OK?’ I said trying to hide the frantic-ness in my soul.

‘Are you ok,?’ Michelle asked.


Narrator: He was not ok.

I quickly entered the store and dialed my mom. I don’t remember exactly what I said on that phone call. But I’m fairly confident – it wasn’t overly nice.

‘Found it!,’ she said with confidence.


‘Sorry that took so long,’ I said as I entered the car and took a deep breath.

Michelle had suggested we watch a movie when we got back upstairs, but I told her that my family was in the back with a fire pit near the lake and that they wanted to say, ‘Hi’.

As we approached the hill to walk up, I gently took her left hand. I had gently taken her left hand a million times before but this time was different. This time I knew what was to come.

‘Watch your step,’ I said with my stomach in a knot.

‘Where is everyone, what’s this?,’ Michelle asked, genuinely confused.

She was ditzy by nature, and I loved it so much. I just looked at her for what was likely a second but seemed like an eternity

‘I have a surprise for you.’

I picked up the bag that sat on the table, surrounded by candles.

‘There’s a box in here,’ I said, still nervous AF, but trying to play it cool.

I took out the box and then the ring out of the box and then the letter. Tears started to pour down her face, but I was always the one who showed more emotion so I’m sure I had a few more. I got on my knee and read her the letter that I had written her and worked so hard to perfect. I was a sobbing fool.

Finally, I made my way through all 4 pages. With a deep breath, I asked:

‘Will you marry me?’

Today, I tried on my wife’s engagement ring.

Courtesy John Polo

A ring she wore with pride. The morning of the day that Michelle died, her cousin suggested we place the ring back on her finger, as she lay in a coma. The love of my life died 2 weeks before our actual wedding was scheduled to take place. Although, we were fortunate enough to legally be man and wife.

I tried on my wife’s ring today. Some might think it’s weird.”

Courtesy John Polo

This story was written by John Polo of Better Not Bitter Widower. The article originally appeared here. Follow John on Instagram here. Can you relate to this grief journey? We’d like to hear your story. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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‘I don’t understand how you don’t love me anymore, just like that,’ I said as we laid in the bed together, tears pouring down my cheeks. ‘I do still love you,’ she responded, and then stopped.’

‘Please think about how you would feel. If your everything. Were no longer here. Please know that for some. This is the absolute most difficult time of the year.’

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