One of the most difficult things to do in the face of adversity, particularly when the creaking of the beams that we have always relied upon to support the metaphorical roof and walls around us is replaced by the faint sound of splintering wood, is to “find” an image or a memory to remind us that things weren’t always as desperate and dark as they may seem and that there is hope, if not a reasonable likelihood that they won’t remain that way forever. I know, because I (and many of the people I’ve loved over the years) have been in that place. And yet, I’m convinced that it is critical to not only “locate” those images and memories, but to keep them firmly fixed in the forefront of our minds at all times if we are to have any chance of dispelling that darkness. The good news is that all of us images and memories like the ones I’m talking about tucked away in the recesses of our minds or in a dusty file folder for just such an occasion – a “picture” of a simpler, perhaps healthier, time in our and/or our loved one’s lives, a time of innocence, of unfiltered joy, of peace, of hope and of endless possibilities. I know I do . . .
Late in the seventh inning of the 1995 Major League All Start game, I left my son and my wife “glued” to the TV set, wondering if the Florida Marlins’ only “contribution” to the National League team, Jeff Conine, actually would get a chance to play, and headed off to bed in anticipation of an early morning meeting. Ashley, who had given up everything having to do with baseball for Lent three years earlier and already was totally disgusted by the fact that the game had interfered with her ability to watch yet another episode of Scoobie Doo on the Cartoon Network (at the time, we had to install a “screen saver” on the T.V. to keep the picture tube from burning the image of Shaggy into the glass!?!) quickly followed my lead. Before I knew it, Ashley had changed into one of my “big T’s” and crawled into bed beside me. After adjusting the sheets, “fluffing” Cyndy’s pillow and turning off the bedside light, Ashley rolled over, snuggled up next to me and draped her arm over my shoulder. As she did, she let out a big sigh and whispered, “it just doesn’t get any better than this!”
Seventeen years later, I still remember that moment as vividly as if it happened yesterday for two reasons. First, it marked the first and, truth be told, the only time a woman occupying that geographic position in my bed would ever utter that sentiment (a little self-deprecating humor for those of you who don’t know me)! Second and, far more importantly, I remember it because, though I don’t recall verbalizing it at the time, Ashley was right – it didn’t (and it wasn’t likely to) get any simpler or any better than that!