After getting out of the hospital and starting my journey to becoming again a functioning member of society, Priscilla and her family were there right by my side each step of the way. There were many times when I felt like giving up and quitting, but letting her, her grandmother, and all the others that stood beside me down after believing in me when the rest of the world had lost hope in me had continued to keep me on the path to recovery. This included both physically and emotionally on the road to recovery from my surgeries and alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease that never goes away, and all you can do is wake up each morning and be thankful that you have not had a drink; continually keeping the disease in remission.
When I found out Priscilla was pregnant, I felt the pain go through my heart as I knew that she was going to have the baby. I never understood why two people that do not love each other have a child; it just does not make sense to me. Looking from the outside there were several questions that crossed my mind about possible reasons… Her boyfriend trying to hide the fact he was gay to his parents? (there were many signs that he was gay) The desire Priscilla had to have something in her life that did not abandon her? The fact that he wanted to show his parents he was maturing at age 51 and should still receive their financial support? The fact that in Costa Rica at age 30 if you do not have a child, friends and family start asking when you are going to have one? It could have been any or none of these. All I knew was she had stood beside me through what I went through and I was going to do the same for her.
Mentally, I could not grasp why her boyfriend was leaving her alone during the pregnancy. Priscilla had told me that his father had told him that if he did not come back to the USA, he would stop financially helping him. If I am 51 and my Dad tells me he is going to cut me off if I do not do something, especially if I have a woman I have impregnated about to have to go through her pregnancy alone, please shoot me then and there. All of that being said, the circumstances of the situation could not be changed and I knew that I wanted to help Priscilla get through what was going to be a very hard 6 months without the father of the baby…even though she did not think it would be.
We did everything together. There were afternoon drives where she and I would talk about life in general. Whenever things got too serious, I would try to throw in one of my inappropriate jokes to make her laugh. Just hearing her laugh made my heart feel better as I knew even thought she would portray a tough outer image; she was dying inside going through this situation alone. I could not imagine carrying a child alone for 6 months and having the strength to keep a smile on her face. She will probably never know how much I admired her will, focus, drive and passion that I saw in her eyes each day we spent together.
At the end of March I was still quite skinny from the weight loss in the hospital but I was walking with crutches. I was finally able to start doing things on my own. When I went to the grocery store I still stayed away from the liquor aisle. Not because I was going to drink but the trigger in my mind that would tell me to drink would still switch on. It was a process and I had to take it one day at a time and build a strong support system around me. This was Priscilla and her family.
As we entered April, Priscilla was starting to show. It was the cutest thing as she was so worried about looking fat. Guys remember to always say…you are just getting bigger because of the baby…you are not fat. I made the mistake of saying there is so much more to you than your looks once…that translated into the ears of a pregnant woman that she is getting fat.
Semana Santa is Easter Week in Costa Rica. It is the time of year where all of Costa Rica shuts down and everyone goes on vacation to the beaches or other various parts of the country. Priscilla had invited me to go with her and her family to San Carlos, a town located near the Nicaragua border. I had never done anything except drink during Costa Rican holidays before and wanted the true Costa Rica experience. The fact that it was a trip with Priscilla was just a very large added bonus. The only thing that caused a little drama was the fact that her mom believed something was going on between Priscilla and me, and was starting to make comments to her about being a “good woman.”
We packed the car and headed off on the very long drive to San Carlos. It was a gorgeous trip, through the coffee plantations and mountains. It was one of the first times I had been able to experience the true beauty of Costa Rica and was taking it all in. While on the ride I would be giving playful pokes and glances to Priscilla, trying not to let her mother see.
After travelling down a long dirt road we parked the car and began the final leg of the journey. Carrying all the items in the vehicle, we crossed a long shaky hanging bridge. It felt good to be on solid ground after the adventure. After crossing through a field we arrived at an old wooden house that looked like it had been built 100 years in the past. Inside we were greeted by one of Priscilla’s aunts who, with her warm smile and laughter made everyone including myself feel at home immediately. There was very little electricity and zero Internet, perfect and peaceful.
After changing into my swimming suit and getting an evil look from Priscilla’s mom for catching us in the middle of playful flirting, we all headed down to the river. It reminded me of the river in San Marcos, Texas. We used to float it almost every summer to get out of the Texas heat and pound a few beers while sitting back in our inner tubes. There is many a Texan that can picture those summers.
The only thing that was the same was the river. The river flowed through the native Costa Rican trees, in which monkeys would climb and jump. The rest of Priscilla’s family was already there playing in the water. I had to wear my tie up shoes as my right foot was not quite able to keep my flip flop on with the river’s current and the base of my feet were still tender. The river was shallow and I walked out into the middle and turned around. I was far enough out that the talking was drowned out by the water running over the partially submerged rocks. Watching the aunts and uncles play with their children in the water and experiencing what family in Costa Rica was all about brought tears to my eyes. It was the first time that I was truly thankful I had made it through the hospital and was alive. I sat down in the river and lay back staring at the cloudless sky and put my ears underwater to drown out everything but nature…then I closed my eyes and whispered under my breath…Thank You.
It was a long and hot afternoon but there was an almost spirituality in San Carlos from its untouched natural beauty. There was not checking email. There was no cell service. There was just nature, friends, and family. After dinner, everyone was exhausted from the heat and the long day of travel. I was in the bedroom with Priscilla-and her mother-there was no way she was going to allow us to be anywhere alone together on this trip. My bed was probably as old as the house, but it might have been the most comfortable bed I had ever slept on. It was a combination bed/hammock. Let me explain, because the box spring support had been so worn, the mattress sunk into it and formed a cocoon type sleeping unit. May not sound great to you but for me it was pure happiness. It was the first time in a long time I had a bed that did not cause part of my body to hurt.
The queen bed that Priscilla and her mother were on had a net to keep bugs out. I will always remember when the lights went off. Immediately there were the sounds of large bug wings somewhere in the room. Priscilla and I were laughing and speaking in English about the fact we were going to get attacked by the bug or bugs. We used flashlights to find the huge green culprit making the noise and finally fell asleep. I think we both had one eye open.
During the middle of the night as it happens, Priscilla had to use the bathroom. In this house it was not like getting out of bed in a hotel, turning on the light and then getting back into bed. It was a truly wonderful life experience. After getting past the bug net she worked her way through the darkness at one point touching my bed to find her way and waking me up. She then had to traverse the many people sleeping on the ground in the living room. Next up was taking the flashlight to the bathroom where Priscilla ran into one of the animals that scares her the most in the world…a very, very large toad. Her scream woke up the next town over as she called for her father. After the toad was removed and the night air returned to silence, we all tried to get back to sleep. Before closing my eyes and preparing for my first true Costa Rica Easter experience, I took a mental photograph of that moment in the darkness. I knew I would never forget it and that it would always remain in my heart…’Thank you for this’ repeated in my head as I finally drifted off.
Next Up – An Easter Testimonial