One of the things that makes waiting to die a somewhat bittersweet experience is my girlfriend Lauren, though I’m sure she would object to being called “a thing.” No, she is both my dream girl and the answer to this old man’s unspoken prayers. I don’t know how I would have survived these past few years without her loving care and all the many things she has done for me during this time to keep the ship of Ring afloat. So it sometimes makes me melancholy when I think that when I die, I will have to leave her behind since the practice of suttee does not seem to be in her repertoire. I will miss her dearly when the time comes for me to take up residence elsewhere.
Lauren and I met online in March, 2015, just as she was about to leave her home in Piedmont, California in order to join her son, Rob, a flight surgeon in the Navy, in Florida where he was to get his “wings.” Lauren is, like me, an e-mail junkie, and in the first month of our correspondence, before we had met, we exchanged no fewer than 200 messages, some quite lengthy. I had obviously met my match and the epistolary girl of my dreams. We fell in love writing to each other, but of course we didn’t even know each other — we were only words on a screen. All she knew about me by then was that I had apparently been married a dozen times and had had innumerable affairs. I feared this one would turn out to be an affair to dismember.
Lauren is a therapist and like all therapists she had been seeing one for years. Of course, it’s a game all therapists play...
[I actually wrote this last spring after my near near-death experience with the flu. But since another flu season will soon be upon us, perhaps this cautionary tale is timely after all. Its message is: Don’t fool around with the flu this year, particularly if you are of an age.]
I might have been a tad too glib when in the first installment of what clearly will be a terminal series having to do with my personal terminus, I observed that at least for me waiting to die was rather boring. [I was also too glib about writing off Tiger Woods; I guess I shoulda known better. O me of little faith…]
After this winter, I have had cause to change my mind. For a while there, I thought it might be more of a matter of life or death. I found myself thinking of the line Othello sings toward the end of Verdi’s opera as he contemplates his own death: “Ecco la fine del mio camin.” Colloquially, “This is the end of the line for me.”
You see, I was one of the millions who caught the flu bug or, rather, it caught me. And held me tight for a while in what seemed to be its death-like grip. It was really bad for a week or ten days there – it’s hard to remember how long. Even now, five weeks to the day after becoming sick, I am still hawking and spitting up gobs of sputum, and my voice now resembles that of your nearby frog. There were times when I considered whether the first piece I wrote in the series might well turn out to be my epitaph. And I admit there were moments, or...