I awoke at 4:17 this morning. For most of my life, that would have been an unusual time to awaken. Recently, that has not been so unusual. That is especially so considering that I had gone to bed at 10 p.m. My wife is out of town visiting friends. It is hard to stay awake when she is not here. She is the only thing in my life that I do not find boring.
I lay staring at the clock, considering my next move. My relationship with consciousness has been completely redefined these past few years by arthritis. I was in pain. I am always in pain. But certain movements remind me that pain isn’t really that bad, but severe pain is really that bad. Getting up and out of bed is one of those movements.
The red digital light on the clock changed to remind me that I was one minute less away from death. Am I boring you? Hang in there just a little bit longer. You will see.
I had just watched an episode of “Outlander.” I enjoyed reading all of the books and the mini-series on Starz is pretty true to the written story.
It had taken me back to Scotland on April 16, 1746, near Inverness. It had taken me back to the Battle of Culloden Field, the last battle of that civil war and the last pitched battle fought on British soil. Allegedly, the Scotts lost nearly 2,000 men, while the Brits lost only a few hundred men. But we need to remember that the victors write the history books.
At any rate, the Scots with swords drawn, charging the ranks of British riflemen, were met with a wall of flying lead projectiles that ushered them into another world, into a life that we in this world call death. But what impressed me was their battle cry. I wondered if it helped in anyway.
I didn’t hesitate. I know that a coward dies a thousand deaths but a brave man only one. ARHARHARHARHARHARHARAH! I sprang out of bed. Then I stood quite still, attune to the pain receptors in my back, hips, and legs. Nothing. Well, at least nothing exceptional. What had happened? How had I managed to elude the extreme pain always brought on by that movement? Did I surprise it and sneak by before it had time to react or did I simply overwhelm it? I think the answer is somewhat more the latter than the former.
I remember that after my first date with my wife, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything but think about her. I reran in my mind, over and over, the way she looked, the way she moved, the way she talked, and everything she said. I knew she was the one I had been searching for all of my life, and I was afraid to stop thinking about her, even for one second, lest she disappear. I was afraid that, if I let her go, I would realize she had been only a dream, a cruel delusion.
But what was I going to do? She was too young for me, too beautiful, too smart, and too accomplished. What was I going to do? As happy as I was at having found her, I was equally unhappy at the prospect of losing her. And I knew that if that really happened, it would be a pain I could not bear. It would be a loss from which I could never recover. But what was I going to do? ARHARHARHARHARHARHARHA! I sprang to my feet and started cleaning the log cabin where I was living. I swept it. Then I mopped it. I dusted it and then I polished every finished wood surface with bees wax. I was obsessed. I worked passionately all day, and then I performed a white glove inspection. Actually, I didn’t have white gloves so I used a white T-shirt. The cabin was immaculate. I felt better.
The next day, I detailed my car. No professional detailer had ever done a better job. The M6 had never looked so good. I felt better. Next, I started looking at the landscaping near the cabin. I was shocked. How had I never seen it before? Everything needed pruning. I worked until dark, then started again the next morning. When I had finished everything looked perfect. I felt better.
I wanted to be with her all of the time, but I could not do that. So, I concentrated on trying to not go crazy when I was not with her. Think. What can I do today? I know. It has been 17 days since I met her. I will send her roses, but not a dozen or two dozen. I will send her 17.
Soon it will be Valentine’s Day. She will be gone. She is going to Savannah for several days to visit with relatives. What am I going to do? ARHARHARHARHARHARHARH! I called my oldest daughter who is an event planner. She owns her own company and puts on events worldwide. I explained the problem to her. She said “Okay, Dad. Give me your credit card info, and I will take care of it.”
In Savannah on Valentine’s Day, I checked into the Mansion on Forsyth Park. I was booked into the Tower Room. After I picked her up, we went back to the Mansion for dinner. At the restaurant, we followed the Maitre d’ across the room and up the stairs. He opened a door on his right to reveal a room that normally accommodated 24 patrons, but this evening only a table for two was there in front of the fireplace. The warm glow from the fire and the candlelight played beautifully on the petals of the white roses placed around the room. The food and wine were perfect. The wait staff was perfect. The evening was perfect. She was perfect. Everything was perfect.
We were married in Paris several months later. It is now several years later. She makes the sun come up every morning and when she brings me hot tea she says, “I love you.” She is still perfect.
What do you want? I recommend you stop agonizing over it, scream ARHARHARHARHARH, spring to your feet, and go for it. You might be surprised.