What Really Mattered


It was the eve of my operation when I discovered what truly brought me peace and satisfaction. If you ask most people how worried or scared they feel before a relatively simple surgery such as having their wisdom teeth removed, it would probably range from “meh” to “It’s just a nuisance” or “I hope I don’t look like a chipmunk after.”

But me? I was very petrified. I had surgery when I was 3 and still remember the ordeal – from the moment they strapped me onto the bed and wheeled me away from my upset looking mother to the handful of adults in scary white masks forcing a foul smelling mask over my face. I vowed to never go under ever again. Until it was deemed that my jaw was too small to carry all four of my wisdom teeth. I tried to be brave. I really did.

I wasn’t like most 21 year olds (Well, I think I’ll be an odd one at any age). I was naive, immature, a loner, and heavily imaginative. I had thoughts of me dying from the anesthetic. Images of me never waking up polluted my mind’s eye.

My sister, my best friend, was away at camp. My boyfriend was playing video games with his friends. I called him that night, you know, just in case I didn`t make it through the operation. He was so distracted, he was almost annoyed that I called because he was winning this car race. A little upset, I let him be. Deep down, I was relieved he wasn’t with me. Platonic at best – no chemistry, no passion, no closeness. Clearly.

I went outside in our secret garden-esque backyard to talk with my parents. I felt better. But I wanted something more. I played with my border collie and then walked to the garage to grab my bike. That was what I needed. To escape. To wander. To daydream. To have an adventure.

I’ve always been a country girl at heart and had taken many walks and bike rides alone or with my sister. But that night was different. I asked myself, if this were going to be my last night, how would I want it to be? I rode far, far away from my home out to the farm community. I remembered a spot where there were horses. To my delight, the horses were out. I got off my bike and fed them the lush grass with my hand. One of them let me pet her.

Then, I kept riding. The sun began to set. No one was around. I remember stopping and crying, because it was such a beautiful moment. I had enjoyed myself, and it scared me to think it might be the last time I would enjoy it. Dramatic, I know. But this was the 21 year old me. I wouldn’t have wanted to be any other way.

The country, with its fresh air, tall trees, and quiet nature that often mirrored mine, revived me.

I savoured every moment as I rode back, breathing in the cooling air, staring at the setting sun, studying the fields of sweet corn. It was one of the best solitary moments of my life.


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