“Are you ready yet, hon?” my husband has asked me for the third time.
I have promised him that tonight I would play our first game of Cribbage. I don’t know how to play Cribbage, so my loving partner of 31 years has so kindly offered to teach me.
“Not yet!” I holler from the living room, “I still have one chapter left to read in my book!” Reading requires brain power. I’m thinking that when I’ve mustered up all of my thinking for the day, we can play games.
He walks over to me and pleads, “Now?” like a little boy wanting to open his Christmas presents.
“Oh. . . kay. . . . “ I sigh.
He brings over the Cribbage board with cards and places them on the large ottoman in front of my chair. He gets comfortable in the adjacent couch. I take deep breaths and set my books aside.
“Now, here are the procedures,” he begins. “We each cut the deck, low card deals. The dealer passes out six cards each and we need to discard two we don’t want. Those cards go in the kitty. The dealer gets the kitty.”
He continues with more procedures. Then, how you get points, “You want to try and get cards that equal 15 because they are worth 2 points, runs are worth 3, unless it’s a double run – they are worth 8 because 3 and 3 and then you add 2 for the pair.”
And, then he gives directions on how to peg for points. More procedures. And new words: pegging, double runs, fifteen-two, fifteen-four, flush, nobs, a Go, thirty-one for two. . .
“Are you ready?” he finally asks.
I am a little girl sitting in math class asked by the teacher to count backwards by 7’s from the number 3574. Tears stood in my eyes. There was a tightness in my chest. My hands rise to my cheeks because they are burning.
“I don’t know what the —- you are talking about,” I calmly tell him.
He pauses, smiles tenderly and says softly, “We’ll play for a few days with open hands, so I can help you,” recognizing my pain. “Don’t worry, hon, you’ll get it.”
I almost say no, I can’t do this. But, I need him to walk me back from the end of the plank. I signed my name on the back of that board. Relationship building. . . I kept whispering to myself.
I win the first game, with open hands. He praises me for my resilience.
Exhausted, I shuffle off to bed.
In the night, gazing out the window at the moon, residue from our game lace my thoughts . . . dread that I was going to have to do this again tomorrow.
Worse yet . . .
I had visions of the hundreds of students I’ve had in my classrooms over the last 30 years and I ached with remorse for all of times I probably put them through this.
I just lay there, whispering, “I’m sorry.”
And, the last line of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Day” came to me like a prayer. . .
“I have miles to go before I sleep.”