ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 152: Ernie the Sensitivo
Ernie was a physical sensitivo.
Bright sunlight hurt his eyes. Loud noises irritated him. Spicy or acidic foods upset his stomach. Perfume suffocated him. He loved the feel of soft cottons and silk and velvet. Something sculpted in marble could give him goosebumps.
He was also a psychic sensitivo. He read faces, picked up on moods. He knew what I was thinking or feeling even when I didn’t. And if he thought he’d let someone down, disappointed someone, hurt someone, he . . . couldn’t let that happen because the feelings of guilt, remorse, would overwhelm him and stay with him. Also, if someone let him down, disappointed him, hurt him, he felt it deeply and almost forever.
He remembered his dreams. Even hours after awakening, a dream would come back to him.
He often thought of this sensitivity as a weakness. He smoked, he drank, he cursed, he gambled, as a way to cancel it out. Then his life caught up with him. “Your liver is twice its normal size,” a doctor told him. “Quit drinking or you’ll be dead.”
So, he quit drinking.
Smoking eventually brought on angina — an ache in his left arm — so he quit smoking.
And gambling? He lived a high-risk life. Even marrying me — twenty-one to his forty — was a gamble. He said: “I didn’t think we’d last much beyond two or three years, but I thought it was worth it.”
He also said, late in our marriage: “You were so young, a baby yourself. Perhaps I took advantage of you.” When he said this, I stayed mute. Now I’d say to him: “Perhaps I took advantage of you, Ernie. You gave me what I didn’t know how to give myself.”
At the last, in his last hospital stay, Ernie said: “Joshua is the best thing we ever did together.”
Not any of the novels and articles he wrote that I typed. Not any of the awards he won for this writing. Not our forty-year marriage, although it’s my biggest regret that it isn’t. Rather, it’s what our marriage brought to us. A person. A new relationship. Joshua.
At the last, Ernie was onto the source — if we learn how to love— of true human peace and happiness.