For the first time in weeks, I could no longer hold back my emotions. I fell to the ground crying hysterically…
You’ve heard that saying about life flashing before your eyes before you die, right?
Well, that is absolutely wrong.
It’s not your life that flashes before your eyes, it’s all the regrets in your past that blinds you.
I had barely gotten out of bed in the past two weeks and had no interest in anything except ignoring basic personal hygiene, dialing out for fast food whenever I got hungry and sleeping the days away with the help of what the doctor had prescribed for me. The pills were supposed to take the edge of my nerves but all they did was make my head feel disconnected from the rest of my body. My brain was still as sharp as a tack with the reality of the situation.
I had managed to make time in those first few days to transfer my contracts to a fellow translator I knew. Janet was more than happy to take them off my hands for the extra income, which I knew she needed badly. And there was no point to taking on any new work, right? When Janet had asked if I was going on vacation, I simply said, “Yeah, I’m taking a hiatus.”
A permanent hiatus is what I should have called it.
Suddenly starving, I crawled out from under the covers and headed to the kitchen where I rummaged for left-overs but came up dry. I had been wavering between bouts of having no appetite to eating anything I could lay my hands on and I could already tell that today would be a binge day. I found my cell hidden underneath a pile of old photo albums, placed a call to the Chinese take-out place nearby and ordered enough food to feed four people. If I kept this up, I’d need to put their number on speed-dial and get myself a larger size of yoga pants.
When was the last time I had eaten? Yesterday? Or was it the day before that?
I flopped down onto the floor in the middle of the messy living room filled with my old family photo albums, sentimental mementos made by the kids when they were little and stray photos I had never had a chance to find a proper home for. The empty wine bottles and stinky empty take-out containers littered among the memorabilia made for an odd juxtaposition. The amateur photographer in me would have taken a picture of that contrast if I had had the energy to get my old camera from the bedroom closet.
Was this what 39 years had boiled down to?
It was like a collage of colorful memories sprinkled with the frustration of putting my life on hold while I raised two children and gave 150% of my time and support to my now ex-husband’s aspirations.
What did I have to show for all that sacrifice?
A big lonely house from the divorce settlement.
Grown children who had little or no time for me.
An ex-husband who discarded me the minute he hit the top of his field and replaced me two minutes later with a shiny younger girlfriend.
My dream of one day becoming a professional photographer was as old as time and now I had no time left to chase it. A dream of traveling the world, taking photos, eating strange exotic foods and interacting with people from all walks of life was like a moving target held tightly by the grim reaper already knocking at my door…
What I did have was a truck load of regrets and a wish for a life do-over.
As the realization hit that the past 20 years of my life hadn’t been my own, the thought of a fresh bottle of wine and the pills sitting on the coffee table felt enticing. I could end it all here and now before any of it even began. It was an option I planned to keep in my back pocket.
My cell buzzed with a voice message ringtone for Meghan, a girl who had befriended me when I joined a yoga class last year as a way of getting out of my hum drum boring routine. She was quite a bit younger than me but she had such a lovely spirit that I had taken to her immediately. We often went for mint tea after yoga and I knew that she probably wondered if I had fallen off the face of the earth. I’d missed the last few weeks and then she had gone on a business trip to Hawaii the week before – so it had been about month since I’d last seen her.
But Meghan would have to wait. I had zero interest in speaking to anyone, including her.
I scrolled through the rest of my missed calls and texts. There was a message from the doctor’s office probably trying to push me with a follow-up appointment, two texts from Meghan and a text from my daughter Hannah asking to borrow money again. And then there was the text from an idiot I’d met from the online dating site I had signed up on and had coffee with weeks ago. Before my coffee had gotten cold, I knew that he was a total loser just looking for an older woman desperate to snap him up. The bright side of my mess was that I no longer needed to bother with dating at all now.
When I wasn’t zoned out sleeping, I wasted time googling my illness and lurking social media to look at the profiles of anyone who came to mind – past classmates, old boyfriends, my ex-husband, the kids and even my doctor. I was in complete awe at how everyone’s lives were fun, exciting and perfectly photo filtered while I sat alone considering a handful of pills for dessert.
The doorbell rang and I didn’t think twice about who it was as I grabbed money from my wallet for the delivery guy. Unashamed at how aweful I looked, I flung the door open to be greeted by Meghan, not the delivery boy.
“Aloha! I come bearing gifts!” Meghan extended a beautiful synthetic lei, draped it around my neck and waved a bag of coffee beans in my face.
“Did you know that more than meaning hello and goodbye, “aloha” is about the spirit of teaching ourselves to love our own beings first and then spreading the love to others? Isn’t that absolutely awesome? I also brought you some real coffee!”
I said nothing, still a bit confused that it was Meghan standing in front of me and not the delivery boy with my order of five-spice chicken, General Tao and Pad Thai. Meghan’s smile slowly vanished as her eyes rolled over my reeking state of unkemptness.
“When you didn’t show up for yoga and didn’t return my messages, I decided to drop the lei and Kona coffee off to you in person. I also wanted to make sure that you weren’t dead or anything,” Meghan joked, still observing me from head to toe.
I felt tears forming behind my eyes.
“What’s wrong? You look absolutely awful. Are you sick?”
My body suddenly felt heavy and I could feel my knees giving out.
“Sick? Yeah, you could say that. But I’m not dead yet.”
For the first time in weeks, I could no longer hold back my emotions. I fell to the ground crying hysterically. Meghan knelt in front me and grabbed onto my shoulders. We both sat crumpled up in my front doorway as she held me tight.
“Well Kate, that’s definitely not the kind of aloha I was expecting,” Meghan whispered as I held onto to her for dear life.
Continuation – B is for “Beach”
All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.
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