A week ago, my life was fairly normal; laundry, dishes, cleaning up after cats and kids, reading posts on Facebook and the internet, watching the debacle of the election cycle, trying to finish some anchor replacement at the older crags in WV and making plans to hit the road for Colorado the day after tomorrow, to begin another season as staff in Pike National Forest's 11 Mile Canyon.
An hour later, I was in an ambulance with a wife who I did not know would live to see another day, holding her hand as EMTs worked on her, my heart in my throat and all plans for the future annihilated and scattered to the winds.
Late that night, the doctors at RMH told us their diagnosis; not the worst, but not the best, not by a long shot.
Cindy, a fourteen year stroke survivor and Multiple Sclerosis fighter, had suffered a brain aneurysm; a massive swelling in the carotid artery just inside her skull, like a loaded cannon pointed directly at the base of her brain. She was transferred to Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center for more tests and scans, her condition analyzed by some of the leading neurosurgeons in the country.
On Saturday, her pain was minimal, her condition stable, and we came back to the Shenandoah Valley.
Eight years ago, I met a funny, beautiful lady with a heart of gold; taught her to climb, shared her battle with Multiple Sclerosis, supported her fight to stop using the medications that were killing her, and listened as she fought with the darkness that had been poured into her soul by demons in human form at such an early age.
In turn, she accepted me for the bipolar, sardonic, irascible, irreverent fool that I am; reached down into my well of isolation and self-pity and drew out the very best of me. If I have failed to live up to that ideal, the fault is mine; Cindy has always believed in me, no matter how badly or how often I have failed.
We have traveled the country from coast to coast, climbed and hiked, laughed and cried at the folly and loss of friends and family, celebrated victories and struggled to find a silver lining surrounding the storm clouds of our occasional defeats. We've learned more about friendship, hardship, love and life in the last few years than either of us suspected could be known in a lifetime.
Today, Cindy and I have a slightly clearer picture of a much different future, and in the light of that knowledge, we are living each day to the fullest, loving and appreciating each other, so thankful for the family and friends who have put aside their own burdens and reached out to support us in our darkest hours of need.
The Road ahead is uncertain; there are trials and storms on our horizons, without a doubt, as there are for every person living in this consensual illusion of reality that we share. But for now, we are holding each other in this safe haven, cherishing each touch, each kiss, each word, and together, we will get through whatever may come.
No matter what may transpire, each of us knows the other will be waiting, there in that forest meadow at the end of the Road; waiting and calling, "Come home".
You and me, kid; forever.
And, for now, that is more than enough.