Why August 13 matters (m) - Blast32 [10:22:46 08/13/09]
I'm not sure why I am writing this. I just know doing so seems cathartic. For the longest time I couldn't write about these events, but time has passed and memory becomes less stinging. I know this - I want to remember these events. Not just the happenings but the emotion and the flavor of them to. How they felt then, how they feel now.
5 years ago today, for the first and only time in my life, I asked a woman to marry me.
Many of you know about Bella, I have mentioned her before. I try not to allude to her too much, both because it is such a powerful subject for me on a board I appreciate for its light heartedness and because it is, for most people, ultimately a sad story. My reason for writing this is not to have anybody feel sorry for me. It is, simply, to remember.
It was a long day at work that day. Hurricaine Frances was threatening Florida, and made for a hectic shift. I was nervous, however, because I knew Bella was going in to get her test results that day. We had known from the outset that the odds were long that her chemo would be successful. The cancer in her liver had spread too far. The chemo was, in all probability, simply a delaying action. However, it was a chance and we were going to take it. Now, I awaited the phone call with a feeling of dread.
Bella and I had carried on a long distance relationship for more than a year. She was in Indiana, where she taught, and I was in Ohio. We would see each other on weekends and vacations. More than anything, I wanted to be there with her when she went to the doctors, but she had insisted I not come. Time taken away from work would have to be made up elsewhere, and she did not want me to have to cut my next scheduled visit short. She was in the capable care of her best friend, so I relented.
The call came mid afternoon. It was not unexpected, but still devastating. The chemo had not materially shrunk the cancer. More chemo was not really an option - she would not survive it. It was a matter of weeks, maybe months. To this day, all I remember about that call was her sobbing, me telling my boss I would not be in for a few days, and leaving. Going directly from work to Indiana. Not even stopping at home to get a change of clothes.
I remember nothing about the drive.
I don't remember planning anything. I just remember walking up to her apartment, her falling into my arms, lots of tears, and the words "will you marry me" coming out. I told her that whatever happened, I wanted us to be together. I told her that I would take her for as long as God decided to give her to me.
She didn't give me an answer right away. The day had been one overwhelming emotion after another. Sometime during the night she woke me gently and whispered a yes in my ear. It remains the best moment of my life.
The next few weeks are such a jumble of emotion and memory all mixed together - flashes of things that have no connection to each other other than in my mind, and how they flavor that time. The look in her eyes when we told my folks. Frances tearing up Florida and her concern about Port St. Lucie, her previous home. Sitting with her on the couch, playing with her hand in mine, telling her how I thought Justin Zwick was going to be the next great OSU quarterback. The look of pride on her face when she reeled off all the OSU Heisman winners on the phone with my dad.
The stunning numbness of Sep. 11th, the day she passed. Nuge hitting a 50+ yarder to beat Marshall the same day. Not breaking down until the ball went through the uprights.
So strange that 5 years has passed. It all seems like yesterday. This time of year will always be thick with emotion for me. I am grateful for it.
Some people go through their entire lives without having somebody like Bella in it. Somebody who's courage and dignity show you the basic value and worth of human beings. Somebody who's love and faith vindicates you, gives you a standard to live up to for the rest of your life.
That's why August 13th will always matter to me.
The height of confidence is standing up in a hammock.