Do you know how strawberries grow? The most unlikely thing finds the most unlikely of places and begins to set down roots. If the conditions are right the roots dig fast and deep. Then it sends out tendrils... one or two at first. They stretch out as far as they can reach and then the tip digs in and sets down roots. Then as you would suspect, it sends out tendrils of its own... I get it. Intellectually I get it. Emotionally, now that's the fly in the ointment. That was the hardest day of my life.
Left to my own devices I would never have gone... never, but my wife can be very persuasive. I did as she asked and found myself sitting on hard chairs in a very dull office.
She held my hand tightly as the white coat came to have his say... straight from the hip, no sugar, right between the eyes. The first time I heard it was like a ton of bricks and I couldn't breathe. Your mind plays tricks and you say "No way. Not me." It takes a while for it to soak in, to become what it will be in your head from that moment forward.
I joked about it, made light of it, teased my wife endlessly. Later at home, alone at last, I sat on the end of the bed and let it truly soak in, to fill me and to be honest, overwhelm me and I cried.
As always my wife knew how I felt and sitting on the bed, her arm around me, we cried together. I was embarrassed by my tears. I didn't want her to see me this way.
I didn't want her to have that picture of me in her head.
I didn't want her to think I was that guy so the next day we pretended. I pretended I never cried and she pretended she never saw me. I didn't want her to worry or to be afraid. She in turn didn't want me to worry or be afraid for her so we pretended.
So I did as they asked and I laid on that table.
After a month or two I began to believe it myself. I joked and teased and all was right with the world. A year slipped by and then another and by its end I found myself on that table again.
I had my head wrapped around it now... nothing, no one, no white coat could ever tell me when to come, when to go, or how long I could stay. I've beaten it before and I can do it again.
"Problem solved! This time for sure!"
Again, a month, two months and another year slipped away and we pretended. We joked, we played and life by-in-large was fun.
"In the long run, it would be best. This time for sure." And I laid on that table once more... eight? Nine? Eleven? "This time for sure!" I lost count, it didn't matter anymore.
I joke and I tease and I pretend that its not really important so she won't be afraid.
Now we lay in the dark, she in my arms, her fingers gently twisting in my chest hair and we talk about the past, about how much fun we've had as the years have gone by. We talk about all the little things that happened that day and we talk about the future.
"I'll go ahead and find us a nice place. I'll wait for you," I say.
"Can we live at the beach this time?" She asks.
"I will see to it personally."
"Liar," she sighs happily and kisses my chest.
"Shrew," I return softly and kiss her forehead, patting her affectionately before we fall asleep with dreams of tomorrow and for another chance to pretend for love.