I awaken early and steal into the kitchen, careful to minimize any sounds that might jolt the world around me out of its slumber. Mornings should be quiet, peaceful, serene.

For the forty-some-odd years I spent with my late wife, I took care to avoid making noise that would disturb her when she was sleeping. My normal habits—going to bed after she went to sleep and arising the next day before she did—could have been irritating and distracting, but I took great care to let her sleep in peace. It’s a practice I continued when she was in the hospital and in rehabilitation centers; even when I was alone, I crept around the house, careful to avoid noise and light that might have awakened her. I still do, though the world has changed for me. Now, I try to protect someone else from unnecessary light and sound.

Some mornings, like this one, I dwell on how important it was, and is, that my early morning habits not intrude on people who should not suffer my moody recollections. Some mornings I want to scream at the world. I want to slam pots and pans on the granite counter and break glasses in the sink. I want to howl, as if that might release the pent-up anger and pain that resides deep in me like a permanent burning ember, searing my gut. There’s nothing to be done, though, to release those scorching, scalding emotions. Only time can do that; and maybe time is not even powerful enough to completely erase them.

So I hold onto myself; I refuse to let the shouts and screams and howls escape from me, because mornings should be quiet, peaceful, serene. Somehow, I will hold those noises inside. The only evidence of the emotions that clamor to be released on the world are tears that stream down my face. Even those will be dry before morning light bathes darkness and sends it away for another night. And the day will progress as usual. It will unfold as if the howls and screams and tears and rage against something unknown were just imaginary beasts that died and disappeared when the sun rose.


The good news is that my brother, who has been in hospital ICU and cardiac intensive care units for several days, is out of the hospital. The catheterization and implantation of a pacemaker went well and he is feeling good. I’ll arrange for a video call with all my siblings and spouses/partners for Saturday so we can celebrate. Though we can’t be together physically, we can all join in to celebrate electronically. We all should celebrate one anothers’ presence on a regular basis.  When I say “we,” I mean the collective “we.” As in all people. Life is too short to allow celebrations to wait; they should take place every day.


My life is improving with each passing day, thanks to my IC. She provides motivation for me to get on about the work of making this house as livable as possible. Today, a handyman will come over; I will give him a long list of projects to tackle. He only has two free days, so he will not get to everything right away, but he will make a nice dent in projects that I have put off for far too long. Some are minor, almost unnoticeable. Others will dramatically change the environment of the house for the better. I’ve just been lazy and too frugal and unsure of whether I wanted to invest in a place I might leave soon. Her motivation has let me break through those obstacles; whether we leave it or not, we’ll make it a better place for ourselves or someone else.


Friday afternoon, a small cadre of close friends will gather at my house again to celebrate being alive. I will again be the only male in the mix; I will be more than happy to be in the minority—I will be delighted. Have I ever mentioned that I enjoy the company of women? Well, of course I have. My IC enjoys the company of women, too, but she says she is just as likely to appreciate the company of men. It’s interesting, I think, that men’s and women’s intellects and emotions are fed and soothed in different ways. If I were more energetic, I might explore the literature about the psychology of male and female emotional triggers to learn what has been measured and what theories have been hatched about the impact of gender on emotional attachments. Or something like that. I’m still intrigued by psychology. I still wonder whether nature or nurture or something entirely different directs our tendency toward establishing emotional attachments. When, if ever, will humans learn enough about one another to actually understand why we behave and feel the way we do? Odd, isn’t it, how a casual mention of a female-dominated gathering evolved into an exploration of psychological differences between the sexes? One of the reasons I think I tend to gravitate toward women in social settings is that the topic I’ve just mentioned is much more likely to catch fire in such settings, generating conversation and ideas. In a male-dominated setting, the topic might be more likely to elicit yawns or quizzical stares than conversations. Or am I being bigoted in the extreme by saying such a thing?


I’ve returned from taking a small, fluffy dog for a walk, leading to his morning poop. Upon our return to the house, I rewarded him for his actions by giving him four tiny dog-treats. He seems to absolutely love the little crunchy snacks. I would happily feed him the little treats for hours and I’m sure he would eat them, but that would no doubt upset his tiny-dog-digestive system, so he’s limited to four at a time, with many hours in between. He’s gotten used to the wait. He is a very patient, friendly (but not overly so) dog. Exactly what I was hoping for when I was in the market for a dog. Alas, he’s getting well along in dog-years. Of course, I’m getting well along in human-years, too.


Look for your naked photograph on billboards in your neighborhood. Forgive the quality of the image; I had to shoot it through sheer curtains or an early morning fog.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stealth

  1. Maybe I am too considerate. Maybe I should wake up, throw dishes in the cabinets, and yodel the Star Spangled Banner just loud enough to wake the dead? I may give it a shot.

  2. Becky H. says:

    What? You don’t empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning? You are too considerate, sir!

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.