I met my beloved wife in 1994 at a support meeting for alcoholism. Both of us were closing in on our 50’s. We often went out for coffee together and became fast friends. Each of us was struggling with our own demons, yet we were able to give each other loving support. The key word is “loving” and not until 1999 did we start dating, very casually, going out to movies, eating dinner at her place, listening to her play the piano while I kicked back. One night Mary Esther and I went to a party where her close friend was celebrating many years of sobriety. After the party, we came back to her place and just because it was time, we fell into each other’s arms for our first passionate kiss. We didn’t have time to consummate the strong desires that we both were feeling because I had to get to the station to make the train back to the recovery house, called Moore’s Way, that I lived in on the North Shore in the great town of Gloucester.
We both promised to deal with this gift the next time we saw each other. Both of us were dealing with some major wreckage of the past and we both agreed that we would not consummate our relationship unless we both comitted to a monogamous relationship. Needless to say, we agreed and have enjoyed a wonderful relationship over the years. However, there have been dark shadows. On April 7, 2001, we came home from church and were eating dinner at her place when she started having tremors and couldn’t stop shaking. I asked her if she could take some deep breaths and she couldn’t. We both realized this was serious and I asked her to get into her car and, despite the fact that I still had no driver’s license (for some major infractions that took place many years ago), I drove her to Mt. Auburn Hospital which was the closest hospital. We parked by the Emergency room and I walked her in. Immediately the staff there recognized that something serious was happening and they took Mary Esther right in and hooked her up to various intravenous machines and then they let me come in to sit with her while she was being evaluated.
The physician was very concerned because all of her vitals were skewed a bit and he said, “We’ll keep her now for observation until this clears up.”
Suddenly, all her vitals started to crash. The physician and staff ran a line to her heart and told us that they were going to have to intubate her because she was rapidly losing the ability to breath on her own. Our eyes met and I was as frightened as she was as they led me out of the room so they could deal with this major event. To make a long story a bit shorter, what they found out was she had Sepsis. There was a cyst on her kidney that had started to leak poisons into her bloodstream and that was what started the tremors. While she was on the table in the Emergency room, the cyst burst and flooded her system with the lethal poison. For about two days we did not know whether my wonderful woman was going to survive. A priest that she knew came in and gave her Last Rites. I had called her mother, who lived downstairs from her, and she came to the hospital. Her name was Mary and she was around 88 years old at the time.
At the hospital, she looked at me and said, “Remember, she was mine first!” I looked her in the eye and said, “I know that, and I will always be grateful that you brought her into this world to grace my life.” She came into my arms and cried. By the end of the second day, Mary Esther started to improve, and they were able to take the intubation out and she could breathe on her own. She still couldn’t talk because they had a mask on her face to help her lungs with pressure. When I leaned over to kiss her forehead, Mary Esther gave me a head butt! It was the only way she could communicate and she wanted me to know she was still there. I realized then that she was going to be okay. For the 12 days she was at Mt. Auburn Hospital, the doctors brought resident physicians around to meet the woman who had survived Sepsis. They told us that if she was not at the hospital when the cyst burst, she would have been lost.
During her recovery, I actually watched Mary Esther go through all the stages of growing up. At first, she was like a little child but then, as she recovered, she grew up into the woman I had fallen in love with. While she was in the hospital, I asked her to marry me because we both felt that time was shorter than we knew. Even though she was committing to a homeless drug addict struggling in recovery, Mary Esther accepted. We were married at a friend’s house, in a large backyard on June 22nd, 2002. It was a great wedding, totally alcohol and drug free, and even the caterers had a great time and didn’t want to leave.
Obviously, there is more to this story, but I have run out of space. It is now 2019 and the leaves are coloring, and the acorns are dropping as the holiday season creeps up on us. Mary Esther and I believe that, for us, God saved the best for last.