What Really Mattered

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It was the eve of my operation when I discovered what truly brought me peace. If you ask most people how worried or scared they feel before a relatively simple surgery such as having their wisdom teeth removed, it would probably range from “meh” to “It’s just a nuisance” or “I hope I don’t look like a chipmunk after.”

But me? I was very petrified. I had surgery when I was 3 years old and still remember the ordeal. They strapped me to the bed and wheeled me away from my upset looking mother. I was left to the mercy of adults in scary white masks forcing a foul smelling mask over my face.

I vowed to never go under again. Until it was deemed that my jaw was too small to carry all four of my wisdom teeth. I tried to be brave. I really did.

I wasn’t like most 21 year olds. I was naive, immature, a loner, and heavily imaginative. I had thoughts of me dying from the anesthetic. Images of me never waking up polluted my mind’s eye.

My sister, my best friend, was away at camp. My boyfriend was playing video games with his friends. I called him that night, you know, just in case I didn`t make it through the operation. He was so distracted, he was almost annoyed that I called because he was winning this car race. I let him be. Deep down, I was relieved he wasn’t with me.

I went outside in our secret garden-esque backyard to talk with my parents. I felt better, but I wanted more. I played with my border collie and then walked to the garage to grab my bike. That was what I needed. To escape. To wander. To daydream. To have an adventure. To be alone.

I’ve always been a country girl at heart and had taken many walks and bike rides alone or with my sister. But that night was different. I asked myself, if this were going to be my last night, how would I want it to be? I rode far, far away from my home out to the farm community. I remembered a spot where there were horses. To my delight, the horses were out. I got off my bike and fed them the lush grass with my hand. One of them let me pet her.

Then, I kept riding. The sun began to set. No one was around. I remember stopping and crying, because it was such a beautiful moment. I had enjoyed myself, and it scared me to think it might be the last time I would enjoy it. Dramatic, I know. But this was the 21 year old me. I wouldn’t have wanted to be any other way.

The country, with its fresh air, tall trees, and quiet nature that often mirrored mine, revived me.

I savoured every moment as I rode back, breathing in the cooling air, staring at the setting sun, studying the fields of sweet corn. It was one of the best solitary moments of my life.

(Photo Source: http://www.everystockimage.com. “Sunrise 4-27-06”)

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5 thoughts on “What Really Mattered

  1. What a memory, Sara. You write it beautifully, helping us relive the moment with you. I think in our youth we think of death in a way that seems to be our mind’s way of sorting out the darkness of our future, a future we don’t quite have the experience yet to envision. No one can feel your fear or pain quite like you do. It sets one apart and in that solitary sojourn, we come to know ourselves; undistracted by the noise of other personalities blaring in our lives.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it. You are so right that no one can feel the things that we do. The best way to get to know ourselves is by going it alone when things are tough. To this day, my parents don’t understand that in me.
      That night was really the defining moment when I realized how much I need solitude, and how much it energizes me. A lot of people would want to cuddle with their significant other, or seek solace from their parents, but I needed an adventure alone. I still think the same way now, which is why I hope I’ll never need another surgery. :O

      1. I feel you in that respect. It’s my default mode, to seek solitude. I also understand that drive for adventure and the call of nature. There can be a lot of healing out there in the quiet embrace of nature. Nothing wrong at all with the beauty in that.

  2. In the last analysis, we always end up facing our fears alone. I think it is by our creator’s design. Not sure why, but it always seems to be the case. I have found to cherish those moments of solitude when it is just me and a greater being. As you said, those moments can be pure magic.

    1. I think a few of us seek out solitude, but many people want to be around their loved ones and to be held when they’re afraid of death. I’ve seen that most often, though you’re right that in the end, whether we have someone holding our hand or not, we will enter death alone.

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