I awoke this morning in a Hampton Inn hotel room in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. Without my special bed, angled to keep my legs and shoulders high, the arthritic pain was severe. I pulled myself up and sat on the edge of the bed.
Ever since my older son, Thomas, died about eight months ago, I have often found myself stuck in a sitting position, unwilling to move, my mind blank. And it happened again, there on the edge of the hotel-room bed. It wasn’t just the physical pain that kept me from moving; it was simple lack of desire to rise, put one foot in front of the other and move on into the day.
In that state, my mind just wanders, not to Thomas but wherever it wants to go, and sometimes I dream. I can’t say that I fall asleep. This morning, without anything to lean my back on, I had something like a dream. It felt real. I was in a speeding car that came to a sudden full stop. And my body flew forward — in the real world in that hotel room. I can’t explain it, but I was thrust off the bed and struggled to maintain my balance on my feet.
Now I was standing. Fear and confusion came first, and then a smile. Was this the spirit world’s version of KITA (kick in the ass)? Was this a message to stop moping and keep moving?
After my morning stretches eased the joint pain, I went to breakfast in the hotel lobby, surrounded by adolescent girls obviously on some sort of trip. After awhile, I caught the eye of one of the women traveling with the girls. “I’m trying to figure it out,” I told her. “It’s the wrong season for cheerleader camp.”
“Synchronized figure skating,” she explained. There had been a competition, and that reminded me why I was there. My younger son, Carl, is the goalie on his roller hockey team, the Warriors, and they were in a three-game series for the championship of their league. Last night was Game One, and I made the 280-mile round-trip for it. Tomorrow morning is Game Two, and I’ll make the trip again.
The Warriors lost last night, 3-2, in sudden-death overtime, but they played a great game against a bigger, tougher team. The Warriors left the court happy, and Carl played his best-ever game as goalie. He was awesome, and we enjoyed an Italian dinner together.
Now, my breakfast over, I walked outside into a sunny 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The air felt great as I stood in my long-sleeve short without a hat or coat. As I reentered the lobby, the desk clerk — probably a college student — greeted me cheerfully. I told her how good it felt outside, which surprised her. The draft from the door made her feel chilly, she explained.
“Oh, you should go outside and take the plunge,” I replied, and she laughed, thinking I was joking, but I was not. Taking the plunge and going out into the cold seemed to be the theme of the morning.
Carl lost his brother nine months ago, but he takes the plunge by stopping speeding pucks, as he did 25 or 30 times last night. My wife, Carol, mother of the two boys, is taking the plunge literally this week, on vacation in Costa Rica, where she had a terrifying fall from a raft in Class 3 rapids.
And I’m here to support both of them, and to turn out blog posts in total honesty, hoping that they do you some good.
Life is good.
— Mel Pine (Fearless Lotus)
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine