That Fateful Day
I awoke without a clue, or inkling, not even the slightest premonition of what was in store for me. No, not even the smallest butterfly in my stomach was telling me I was going to die on that day. It didn’t seem fair for some reason. Nothing at all was different about my morning routine, or my feelings; no deep thunderous voice spoke from my inner soul to explain the preparations I assumed were necessary to undertake on the day of my death. I always assumed people who die must suddenly receive a warning from God, or a visit from an angel who floats down from the heavens and speaks in a soft, sensual, female tone, preparing the unfortunate soul for the ultimate exit.
So, without a thought out of order, I performed well the ritual of my morning rush. I went from the shower to the closet, threw on yesterday’s pants, chose a pullover sweater, combed my hair, finished touching up my stubble with a plastic shaver, put my cell phone into my back pocket and headed down the stairs and into the kitchen where my sweet wife, bless her soul, left me a hot carafe of coffee and an insulated travel mug, the top placed to the side exactly as it had been the day before - - just as it is every day. My life isn’t boring, I would think, just predictable, no room to complain when so many others are worse off than me. I didn’t care much about other people, but the thought would often slide through my silent dialog, if for no other reason than to ward off my ineffable feelings of self pity.
There was a soft winter’s glow to the dawn of the day. It was the kind of morning where there were no other sounds but the groaning tree limbs, and the deadened crunch of my footsteps on the frozen ground. I opened the reluctant car door and swung my briefcase over the driver’s seat only to watch it crush the empty water bottle resting upright in the cup holder of the center console. I began to shiver the minute the full weight of my body crackled onto the seat cushion. Arching my back I began to route through the depths of my pocket for the ignition key. By the time I found it I was out of breath and shivering uncontrollably. Far be it from me to admit I was freezing to death because of my arrogant refusal to recognize winter as a viable season.
As a matter of fact, I suffered from such a stubborn case of winter denial that I had an aversion to even buttoning my coat or drying my hair before stepping out into the subfreezing temperatures. Therefore, it came as no great surprise to find myself sitting in a refrigerated car, fumbling with a metal cup of coffee, an overstuffed briefcase, my hair frozen solid and my fingertips feeling the painful onset of frostbite as they struggled to insert the ignition key. The only solace in all of this was that I knew the exact point in my trip where the heat from the engine would give me relief from the madness of winter, and I would have the warmth and comfort of a hot cocoon for the better part of my journey to wherever it was I was heading on that fateful day.