Thursday, October 26, 2006
"the best moment of my life..."
The best moment of my life--and I suspect of yours--isn't strictly a moment. It's an accumulation of them, a light that flashes brighter and brighter until it blinds you with its beauty.
It also can't last; and like autumn or first love or a sunrise, that evanescence is no small part of its magic.
This week on Dilbert blog, Scott Adams wrote about the return of his voice after disease had robbed him of it for eighteen months. It was, he said, the best moment of his life. But it wasn't one moment. It was the all the moments and all the years when he had taken the wonders of speaking for granted. And it was also the months when he had gone without it. It was a moment of culmination, and it was amazingly, preciously temporary. Scott couldn't be sure how long he would have the use of his voice, but he knew one thing: it wasn't forever.
For me, there have been a lot of best moments. The moments when babies were born. When love was incited as quickly and mysteriously as tossed match, the moments when shadowy stories that had lingered in my subconscious for months or years finally took on solidity. But Scott's story made me think of another kind of moment.
It was this time of year, late autumn, post harvest, the time of shortening days and increasing chill, and my father was dying. He had been in a coma for two weeks the night I found myself alone with him in his hospital room.
As I did every night, I talked to him. I told him the old stories that bound us together. They seemed incredibly few and thin. The night we snuck out together to buy a puppy after my mother forbid it. The Saturday afternoons when he took me out for chocolate milkshakes. The beach we went to when I was little, and how he always made us walk for miles, until we had escaped the crowds found a place of solitude where we could hear nothing but the sound of the surf. Yes, they seemed few and thin, but they were anything but.
I also told him that I loved him. But on this night, he opened his eyes and spoke in a tremulous voice. "I love you, too."
I picked up the phone and called my mother.
"Someone wants to talk to you," I said. And when I handed her the phone, my father said, "Hi honey," like he had done every night when he came in from work.
But this time we all were weeping. This time we finally understood that we'd been imperviously living the happiest moment of our lives for decades.
Two weeks later my father died, but the bliss of that moment remains. And the truth of it.