Three years ago, four days after HE. sat down next to me at our favorite garden and asked me to be his wife, we jetted off to Mexico. The trip had been planned for a while; we were going to meet his family for a week-long sunny break and his proposal had been timed so we could celebrate as a group.
I was so unaccustomed to the diamond glittering on my finger that a few times during that vacation I walked smack into a wall – I would look down and find myself so fixated by the shining, twinkling stone that represented his love for me that I wouldn’t see where I was walking and I would end up tripping over furniture or walking right into a door.
On the last day of the trip, waking up early to catch our flight, I noticed that my neck was stiff. I must have slept funny, I told myself. It’s probably stress from travel. We had a three-hour flight from Cancun to New York City ahead of us, followed by a seven-hour flight to Paris, followed by a four-hour flight to Tel Aviv, at the end of which we would finally be home.
By the time we landed in New York, my stiff neck was stiffer, and I also had a headache. I must be getting a migraine, I told myself. I probably haven’t been drinking enough water.
Standing in line for our flight to Paris, I held my fiance’s hand and looked down at the diamond on my finger. It was still twinkling madly in the light, but it looked a little bit fuzzy. My head throbbed. We boarded our flight and found our seats and within moments were gaining altitude and headed north over the Atlantic. My fiancé was in the window seat and soon fast asleep, his head resting against the aircraft wall. I was in the middle seat, sweating. It was hot. Incredibly hot. Sweat started dripping down my face and with each pulse of my thumping head, it felt like my temperature climbed higher. I tore off the blanket on my knees, my sweatshirt, my soft summer scarf, my socks. I was wearing nothing but leggings and a tank top and I could not get cool.
I shook my fiancé, woke him. I don’t feel well, I told him. I
think I’m sick.
As soon as I had said it, though, I felt my body turn cold. So, so cold. I pulled my clothes back on and sat in my middle seat, shivering, as he covered me with both his blanket and my own.
Fifteen hours later, we landed in Tel Aviv and drove through the dark night back to our apartment. I showered, gulped aspirin, groped my way toward our bed. In the middle of the night the pain in my head had grown so sharp and terrifying that I started wailing.
My fiancé took me by the hand, wrapped his fingers over mine, and called a taxi. On the way to the emergency room, he rubbed my right palm. I rubbed the diamond on my left hand and tried to remain calm.
Later, there would be a CAT scan, a spinal tap, and a starchy paper dress. There would be blood viles and vision tests and there would be a neurologist who told me I had meningitis and had
arrived at the emergency room just in time.
And there would be my fiance, lovingly stroking my hair and removing all my jewelry and biking home to keep it safe. He came back with fuzzy socks, orange juice and a stack of books, and then refused to leave again.
He would sit next to me for seven straight days and read to me from my novels because I couldn’t focus my eyes on the page.
He would sleep next to me for seven straight nights, curled up into a plastic hospital chair, because I was too scared to be in the hospital room alone.
After one week, I was healthy enough to go back home, to continue resting I my own apartment and my own bed, and to once again wear my diamond ring. But if you ask me the moment I really realized that my fiancé loved me, realized it in that deep and hidden place that you can only go to when you’ve flown across continents with a brain swollen in its skull and all your regular senses have been fuzzed away, it was when I woke up, in the middle of the night of the third or fourth or fifth day in that hospital room, and I reached out my hand to the sleeping man in the plastic chair beside my bed. Still semi-dreaming, he took my hand and squeezed it, and rubbed my fourth finger where the diamond should have been. And I knew that the diamond itself meant nothing. It only mattered because of who had given it to me.
Israel/USA; Loves newspapers, street food, and lazy Saturdays with my puppy.