My Valentine's Day wakeup call

Waking up in a hospital on Valentine’s Day is not an ideal way to start the holiday, but it did make it memorable.
A few years ago, my wife and I decided to go out for dinner the night before Valentine’s Day in a seemingly brilliant plan to avoid the crowds that would pack restaurants on the actual day.
So, on Feb. 13 we found ourselves sharing a romantic dinner in a moderately busy sushi restaurant.
I was feeling so pleased with myself that I decided to venture into some exotic territories, including some items with tentacles, which I have historically avoided.
For the record, I’m still not a fan of tentacles. Later that night, I awoke with some severe stomach pains.
Vowing to never eat tentacles again, I waited for the pain to subside, but it only grew worse, and worse, and eventually much more intense.
Finally, I decided that I needed to act. “Honey,” I woke my wife. “I think we need to go to the emergency room.”
 “Let me know when you’re sure,” came her sleepy response, followed by light snoring.
I stared into the dark, realizing that if I died, it would be the result of my own imprecise language.
I shook her awake and said, “Honey, I need for you to take me to the emergency room.”
A few minutes later, I was doubled over in an emergency room, and not long after that I was informed that my appendix had decided to leave with me… on Valentine’s Day.
I thought I had always loved my appendix, but I realized that lately I had taken it for granted. I had assumed it would always be with me… that we would grow old together.
But, that was not to be, and just like that, it was over.
The doctors (and all medical science) swore it had nothing to do with the tentacles, but I can’t help but wonder if that was the final straw… I’ve moved on with my life, appendix free. But, I took a valuable lesson away from that night.
Not about tentacles, but about saying what I mean and meaning what I say.
Since that night, I’ve become acutely aware of how often I say, “I think…” at the beginning of statements that need to be decisive. I’ve also come to recognize how often people around me say, “I think…” at times when they need to be decisive. “I think I should work harder.” “I think I should take a chance.” “I think I’m in love.”
There are times to be considerate of other possibilities, but there are also comes a time when the rubber hits the road, as they say (Especially, if said rubber and road are leading to a hospital).
My wife reminded me that night that I need to say what I mean, and mean what I say, and that painful experience made me realize how often my words didn’t say what I actually meant.
A hospital bed is not a great place to spend Valentine’s Day, but it is often a great way to realize our priorities, and Valentine’s Day is a pretty good day for doing just that.
It’s an opportunity to say the things that are said with uncertainty, or worse, go unsaid.
I don’t think I love my wife; I love my wife. I don’t think that I love my family; I love my family. I don’t think that my friends are amazing people who make my life amazing; my friends are amazing, and they do make my life complete.
When I catch myself or hear others starting a statement with “I think.”
 I always have the same thought. Wake me up when you’re sure.
I wish for all of you a very happy, loving, and decisive Valentine’s Day!

Manuel Alvear is many things – among them a Texan, a father, and a longtime journalist.  If you want him, you can find him – on the opinion page of the Burleson Star.

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