My son, Austin, is in love. He doesn’t use those words, exactly-at least not with his old man. But he’s listening to moody music, meeting his love’s parents and taking her out to movies. Most telling: When I suggested he spend time with other teen-agers during our Christmas-week cruise, he said, “No, I’m taken.”
Last weekend, Austin was listening to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” Deeming it “a very sad song,” he was inspired to write a poem.
“I’m not usually much for poetry,” he said in an e-mail, “but once in a while I feel the urge.”
Love is not so grand as the first rays. The cool moonlight, the fire, hold nothing And the trees, the wind, the mountains They all are blown far away, against the
day, in the dawn. Through bleary eyes and foggy mind The light breaks through the dew And a gasp escapes; the world it holds
its breath As the morning blue, awakens true, to
find another day.
Piercing roughest oak and softest breast, Gleaming from silent bells and brilliant
waves, Silence falls on speech; for a moment all
is still, Bright and true, wet with dew, the light
renews us all.
At first ray on Feb. 1, my wife, Pam, and I awakened to another day. Through bleary eyes and foggy mind, we went through our morning routine, climbed into the car and drove into the morning blue.
As we parked in the hospital garage, silence fell on speech. And for a moment, we sat still, fearing that we would, a few moments hence, be blown away by news sufficiently steeled to pierce the roughest oak and softest breast.
When the doctor entered the exam room, we told him of Pam’s persistent cough. And the limp. And the muscle cramps that strike at night.
And he listened, longer than usual, through his stethoscope. And he asked Pam to raise one leg, then the other, as far as she could. Then he left the room to view her latest chest X-ray on the computer.
When the doctor returned, he brought a chair with him and sat down-never a good sign. And he looked Pam in the eye, as is his wont, and he said that the latest drug wasn’t working; and that the tumors in her lungs had grown larger; and that he’d heard, for the first time, troublesome sounds on both sides of her chest; and that her sore leg might be a sign the cancer had spread to a bone.
And he told us of two treatment options, and their inherent risks and which he’d recommend. Then he asked us to meet with a research nurse who explained the great promise and potential perils of yet another wonder drug.
And as we walked, hand in hand, back to the car, the world held its breath. Inside, I kissed her cheek and a gasp escaped. Then through bleary eyes and foggy mind, we emerged from the garage and into the mourning blue.
I remember when our love was young, like my son’s. I remember Pam standing in a burgundy dress in Barnaby’s. I remember staring into her eyes at Timothy’s. I remember when the words to every slow song were written just for her. I remember the morning calls, and the afternoon calls and the calls late at night. I remember cards from Cape Cod and Valentine’s odes, quiet strolls through Back Bay and standing in the mist by Que Huong.
There are a million first rays before you, young lovers. And a thousand morrows to blow away the moonlight, and the firelight, and the trees, and the wind, and the mountains, and one another in the dawn. And there’s a multitude of blue mornings, their light gleaming from pealing bells and swelling waves.
Yet in the sudden, dark division of a wayward cell, or the lost and lonely rhythm of a shattered heart, the light of love’s renewal can be too soon extinguished.
It’s Valentine’s week.
Pam has surprised her love with a few days away in New Orleans.
Austin and his love will exchange heart-felt cards, and (as long as I’m not looking) a kiss or two.
And you, my dear friends, face a choice:
You may gamble, assuming that your love is infinite, and squander an opportunity to say, “I love you.”
Or you may, in honor of Austin and Karolina, Pam and me, learn never to take love for granted-not even for a day.
If you choose the latter course, when the light breaks through the dew on Feb. 14, please, gaze upon your love, and let that gasp escape, and witness the world holding its breath as your day dawns in morning blue.
Hetrick is president and creative director at Hetrick Communications Inc., a local public relations and marketing communications firm. His column appears weekly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.