I don’t know how many of you have had the privilege of standing in a quaking aspen glade when they are in full color, but it is both mystical and magical.
It feels like even the air is flooded with golden light in the hushed Autumn. The birds have flown south, the grasshoppers, crickets and cicadas have all burrowed in for the winter.
The only sound you hear is the clapping of the leaves as the mountain breezes set the leaves to quaking. It sounds like soft applause.
I was on a spiritual retreat in the foothills of the front range of the Colorado Rockies one golden autumn when I first laid eyes on Snookums. I was stunned. Unfortunately, she was there with her boyfriend, and surprising to some, I do actually have ethics. One does not hit on another man’s woman.
Most of the attendees were couples, and just three or four of us weren’t. So after meals and seminars, I spent most of my time alone, absorbing the golden hues and silence, and drinking camp coffee that one of the other solo attendees kept hot and ready on his campfire. I really don’t mind coffee grounds in my teeth, and there is something about coffee made cowboy style that makes it taste like heaven. I sipped his coffee while I sat on a log by a creek than meandered through the glade, and pushed away thoughts of Snooks.
I worked for her boyfriend from time to time, so I sat with them through many of meals and lectures, but I kept the conversation banal. Still, I wasn’t able to stop myself from furtive glances in her direction from time to time. So a few weeks later, her boyfriend called me to help him sneak out of their house so he could pursue a torch singer. I knew the singer, and knew where her heart was. And it wasn’t with the boyfriend. But I willingly helped him load his truck with his tools and belongings, and waved bye bye as he drove off.
I never pursued a woman until I met Snookums. I wasted no time calling her that evening and consoling her. Frankly, she didn’t need much consoling, but that is another issue entirely. We began attending lectures together, and I made sure that I called her every night before she fell asleep. I wanted my voice to be the last thing she heard that evening.
It wasn’t long before moved the friendship up a notch. It was a mere two months since the retreat in the aspens that I moved in, and we got a rent-a-preacher to make a house call for the simple wedding. It wasn’t always bliss, I brought quite a bit of baggage into the marriage that needed to be left somewhere. She even had to get some counseling. But in time, we grew together. I don’t know when that happened, but one day years later I woke to the realization that we had indeed become one.
I am writing much of this post from a Starbucks inside huge medical school complex. Pretty odd, when you think of it. The CEO of Starbucks said publicly that he would be happy if no one like me came into one of his stores, and I willingly obliged.
But today I put all that aside as I waited for Snook to finish her cognitive testing at the neurological clinic. I could be with her the first hour or so while the psychologist got the background material, and I was glad for that. She has forgotten all of the period between her two strokes, and has no recollection of her stay in the hospital. Then I was shooed away while they did their testing.
So I sit here and remember the girl that I married. She still peeks out at me from mirthful eyes. I hear the young girl in her quick but subtle humor. We have become one flesh.