-- by Mike Murray
Six A.M. It was only six A.M. And, already, it was shaping up as a crappy day.
How long had it been since I'd done something so stupid as adding coffee grounds without first installing a filter? Worse yet, when was the last time I failed to empty the pot before starting the brewing process? When the freshly brewed coffee combined with the stale concoction left over from the day before, the decanter overflowed.
Maybe I should have checked my horoscope. Maybe Jeanne Dixon -- or whoever is writing those things for the local paper these days -- could have advised me to stay in bed. Keep the covers pulled tightly over my head. Perhaps I could have kept the world at bay on that fateful day.
As it was, I was like the Titanic: on a collision course with destiny.
Step by bungling misstep, I plodded through the morning. I accomplished less than usual. Everything came hard. Sometimes things just flow. As all runners know, there are days when you're in the zone. Days when your steps are light and your breathing easy. Your brain releases endorphins as you float effortlessly along.
This wasn't one of those days. Nothing came easily. I don't suffer from writer's block; I can usually get something down "on paper." Staring at a blank computer screen seldom is a problem for me. Words almost always come. Words came to me on this day, too. But they were lousy words.
Every time I reviewed a page of text, I was sorely disappointed. Boring, unimaginative. Workmanlike, at best. All in all, pointless. Perhaps my time would be better spent working on the yard.
I poured myself a glass of cola and proceeded to the half bath to shave. (It's okay to look like a tramp while working in the depths of my home office, but facing the outside world requires a certain deference to decorum.) As was my custom, I placed my glass on the box fan that called the top on the clothes washer home.
In keeping with the events of the day, I botched even that simple task. I managed to spill the sugary liquid all over the fan: through the controls on top, down through the protective grill, into the motor. Damn it, anyway!
Would nothing go right for me today?
I lost it. I cursed my wretched luck. Why did everything have to happen to me? Why was I so cursed? Saving the fan would be difficult. The liquid would dry in an hour or two, but the sticky residue would be nearly impossible to remove. Especially from the electrical works. And the controls would retain traces for who knows how long.
A royal pain in the butt, to be sure. First the coffee. Then the countless other irritations. Now this. Why me? Why -- all the time -- me? Couldn't life pick on someone else for a while?
What else could go wrong? It was a question I should never have asked. Only a couple of days later, I got my answer.
Maggie became ill. Desperately ill. My precious, precious Maggie.
Only a mutt to some, she was so very dear to my wife and to me. She was, without question, the kindest, most decent, gentlest soul I had ever known. An angel. Next to my wife, my best friend. And now she was fighting for her life.
After months of desperate struggle, Maggie pulled through that dire episode. But she tragically succumbed to a relapse of the same blood condition only a year later. There was little warning; she went within seventy-two hours of the reemergence of her symptoms.
My wife and I had that one final -- that one additional, blessed -- year with Maggie. And I had learned a hard lesson. Cursing one's luck over small irritations is oh-so shallow. I had failed to appreciate all that life had given me. I had fretted over the trivial.
Years have passed. I still have the non-functioning fan. I intend to keep it with me, always.
Copyright © 2003 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.