When we met it was as though we had been together since the beginning of time.
Hurricane Hugo brought us together in 1989, during my fourth and next to last year of Surgical Residency. Coming in from call one night I saw all over CNN and the news, pictures of devastation on the island of Montserrat where my mother was born, and living at that time.
The once lush hillsides were bared by the fury of the wind exposing roofless homes everywhere. Of course all communications were down and I could not contact my mother. I knew in my heart that she was physically in no danger but I had to go see.
I told my Chief Resident that I was off on a humanitarian mission, he could not argue that, and off I went, back pack filled with surgical supplies. I found my mother in a small run down cottage she had been forced to relocate to. A bread fruit tree in the back yard had fallen on the roof of her home.
I spent many hours making the space habitable for her then went to volunteer at the island hospital. I was placed in Casualty, the British Colony version of an Emergency Room, to take care of cuts and lacerations.
At the end of the day I headed for the nearby watering hole aka the pub. A few beers later after chatting with a cople locals, I was lightly flirting with the idea of heading out, when I got a hello and looked up into the eyes of my fate.
By this time in life I realized that I had an nnate preference for all things Celtic and pagan. It seemed unnatural to everyone else considering my race, culture, and religious indoctrination.
Jonathan was born in Scotland. He lived in London and was currently having the artist’s life, spending time in Montserrat with an old fiend, son of a former Governor. It was pretty much a done deal after our first meeting.
We spend the day and night together. He always said, as we related our chance meeting to friends, “it was love at first bite.” After a couple days I went back to New York and tried to forget him.
I met his family in England over a week that Christmas. He came to New York for a short time and I went to Montserrat. That was it. Upon completion of my surgical training two years later, we were married. We spent 20 years together. He would say as each year went by, sometimes disingenuously, “another year of bliss”.
We were married on the island of Nevis, my birth place, in the historic Fig Tree Church. The priest was unknown to me because my family was strictly Christian Fundamentalist. I abhorred the dogma that had been forced upon me as a child, and so as a compromise, for the sake of family, we chose to say our vows in the religious tradition of my husband to be because we loved the beauty and history of this particular edifice.
Unfortunately we could not choose the priest. During the pre marriage counseling I tried to negotiate regarding the vows. I would have none of that “ till death do we part” archaic vow. I would make my own, but the priest would have none of that.
We stood at the altar and he recited to me “and do you Cheryl.. till death do you part?” I froze. Time stood still and I went into a worm hole. After an eternity and from a great distance I could hear Jonathan’s voice as he held both of my hands in his, “its ok babe, its ok. I came back and stepped into my destiny.