Auntie M found herself running to The Emerald City in a horrendous rainstorm the other day. (If anyone can ‘run’ to Greenville, NC, 1 hr 45 mins from us.)  My goal was a new twin mattress for the hospital bed for Doc from Sam’s, inexpensive but definitely a comfort level above the one he’s on.

I listened on the way in to the offerings on NPR; after Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, I heard a great interview with Kenneth Branagh about his role as Kurt Wallender, the Swedish detective, in the Mystery series currently playing on our PBS station.  He filled out background of his approach to the role, which I appreciated when I saw the next installment later that evening. (He also mentioned he is now working on the next three in the series for those of you have become addicted to the brooding Swede and the sepia landscape.)

But on the way home, the offerings were slim and I hit the CD button.  Now I must mention I was driving Doc’s rather long, enclosed pickup truck so I could cart the mattress home.  So it would be his choice of music I listened to.  After surfing through the six slots, he only had one filled.  Leonard Cohen filled the cab, one of Doc’s favorites.  Maybe it’s because they share a birthday that he feels a kinship with LC, but he owns every one his recordings, plus two books he’s written.  I personally think it’s because they are both depressives–ever really listen to his lyrics, lovely as they are?  I’m the eternal optimist, the glass half-full person, but Doc needs the occasional elbowing to be up. We are the truism of opposites attracting.

The first time I really became aware of LC, Doc and I were in Quebec.  We’d traveled to Montreal for a medical conference and continued to the Old City for four days of vacation afterward as it was my birthday.  It was very special because although we had been seeing each other for months, we had done so discreetly outside the hospital where we both worked.  This was our first public appearance together in front of his colleagues, many of whom had driven up the Northway from Long Island, as we had, to attend this popular convention.  I don’t think we’d really fooled anyone in our reticence, but I was warmly welcomed at the convention and we left for our time alone in Quebec on a romantic high.

I remember being entranced with the old world charm of the Chateau Frontenac and the city itself.  We ate dinner there on my birthday in their elegant restaurant while a harpist played softly (my favorite instrument and the one I wished I knew how to play).  As the waiter brought our dessert, he placed a plate in front of me with a small silver case.  Inside were a pair of tiny vintage diamond earrings Doc surprised me with–you can believe I was over the moon.

The next day, wearing my new sparklers proudly, it snowed heavily and after a walk had turned out noses to icicles, we found ourselves lingering over huge steaming bowls of chocolat chaud, talking about our future, our three sons and how they were reacting to our new relationship, and listening to the background music.  A gravel-voiced man sang in English, and as the tape repeated itself, I realized his lyrics were very poetic.  I’d only known LC as the writer of Judy Collins famous song “Suzanne,” so to hear him ‘singing’ his own songs was intriguing.  I don’t think I noticed then how depressive most of them were; I was too in love with the man beside me and the moment.

Fast forward twenty some odd (and married for 18) years later, and this CD brought back that memory.  Forget that we have had our disappointments and our losses, our heartache and our pain.  Who in a marriage of any length hasn’t?  What we still have is an enormous love and respect for each other that has weathered the storms we’ve faced together.   That afternoon of romance and a new future stretching out before us, the hopes and dreams we shared, all are caught up for me whenever I hear Leonard Cohen.  And I realized it must be that way for Doc, too, as he had chosen to keep LC in his only filled slot.