It’s March 14th. The next day would be a turning point in Roman history. 60 some compatriots in the senate meet to hone their plans that would seal the fate of Julius Caesar and to fulfill the prophecy of the soothsayer. Brutus is the last of the familiar mob to plunge his dagger into the body of his once closest companion. Beware the Ides of March, Caesar was warned. Beware. No good will come. Your heart will stop.
Like Julius Caesar, I’m not a believer in the words of mediums, mystics, or modern con men and women like John Edward or Sylvia Brown, but even Great Caesar’s Ghost would have to have taken notice in the coincidence of his death’s timing and the preternatural warning that was given to him. He joked about it, as would I if given a warning from a psychic.
I’ve heard that time is a flat circle and all, but from my perspective it’s a straight line. It’s only looking back that we might be allowed to believe in something like destiny. Many forget time’s linear nature and our propensity for noticing patterns. I’m a natural skeptic, save the year that I was engaged to a religious zealot and believed that I might one day become a preacher, but thankfully the relationship did not last. Al of the beliefs that I thought I had and all of the signs that I thought I saw were simply how I framed my personal narrative.
Growing up in my house, it’s surprising that I am a skeptic. As a kid my father was a straight-laced Methodist, but in my mid-twenties he changed his religious spots and became a hard-right evangelical who now attends a doomsday church were the end of the world is preached from the pulpit.
My mother was never religious, but she had always been a bit daring when it came to being-open. When I was younger her openness sometimes frightened me. She was prone to trying things like automatic handwriting, dabbling in palm reading and practicing numerology. I laughed, and probably rolled my eyes when Mom brought home her first Himalayan salt lamp and extolled its health benefits for purifying the air.
Personal coincidences, not fate, have appeared in my life as well, at least in retrospect. After completing college with a degree in design, I had almost given up on finding a job within my designated field. But being from a small town had its privileges. I knew everyone and had a reputation as an artist and now I was an artist with a degree. And even though it was not a teaching degree, I had been offered a job at my high school to teach art. As I was walking in to sign the provisional contract, I received a call from a company in Atlanta who said that they would love to hire me. I left the superintendent’s office, embarrassed that I had to turn the teaching job down in person, but relieved that I would now be entering my career instead of falling back into an environment that would one day suffocate me (not teaching, the town).
I remember meeting Regina, my wonderful wife and closest companion, on my first day of work. When I introduced myself on that first day, she looked at me with daggers in her eyes insisting that we had met during the group interview a week and a half before. Unfortunately, she was correct.
I was not initially interested in Regina, not because she wasn’t beautiful, but mainly because she wasn’t interested in me. When my mom finally saw a picture of her, she immediately inquired, “Why aren't you dating that one?”
The reasons that I gave were (1) I worked with her and (2) having heard she attended church regularly I deemed that she was too religious for my taste considering my last relationship. Six months later, the two reasons faded to the background and we were sneaking looks, notes, and kisses at work and our secretive office romance was really only a secret to us.
In 2007, after a 6 ½ year courtship, we were married. Thankfully, I took the call and did not become a teacher.
My grandfather, Mom’s dad, was sick. By the beginning of 2006, Mom knew he was dying. Being a teacher of literature, she was and has always been good at ciphering the meaning and symbols in her dreams in a literary fashion. That January, she had a peculiar dream that she then related to me.
At a restaurant, my mom, dad, and I sat around a table. The server brought a white frosted birthday cake and said specifically that today was March 3rd and that we were all here to celebrate a birthday. Now, in the dream Mom became increasingly annoyed because she knew that her father was dying.
In her waking life, she was convinced that her father would die in February. His grandfather had died in February. His step-father had died in February and even his father had died in February. When February passed, she was a bit relieved, a bit surprised, and obviously mistaken. Three days later she received a call from wintery Jonesport, Maine, informing her that her father, my Pop, had passed away. It was March 3rd. Then she knew that the celebration in her dream was not really a birthday, but a ceremony marking the exact date of his death, or so we thought.
Years later, my son was anticipated by his doctors to be born in February. It happened to be a Leap Year, and Regina and I were both hoping for the lottery of birth dates, but February 29th passed us. Early on March 2nd Regina went into labor. I called mom telling her and my dad not to come up until after Henry had been born. And like any self-respecting grandparents to be, they did not listen. We all expected that Henry would arrive that evening, but Regina’s labor lasted through a Friend’s marathon, a severe thunderstorm and 2 hospital shifts. Mom and Dad waited for nearly fourteen hours in the waiting room and finally through the use of what would be equivalent to industrial baby pliers, Henry Elliott Mitchell took his first tiny gasp of air at 11:01 on March 3rd. Six years later my Mom’s dream about a birthday on March 3rd finally made perfect sense and Henry would be tied in numbers to a man whom I loved and admired.
March 14th, 2001 began as a typical Wednesday evening, but it would be a turning point in my life. Before we were married and even before we were the secretive couple at work, Regina and I were merely two reluctant friends. We had been working together now for about 6 months and despite our rough start we had become close. We shared tastes in music, in the arts and both loved B-Horror movies like The Evil Dead films. And there were many a night where we would get drunk on cheap table wine and watch VHS copies of movies that we had recorded off of television. We had just finished watching “So, I Married and Axe Murderer”, when we realized that our long evening had once again turned into the next morning. And like our first meeting, I’m certain that I still annoyed her, but was confident that our feelings were mutual otherwise. With our guards down from too much wine, I encouraged her to reveal to me what was obvious, but was too scared to express myself. Like a dagger, Regina’s words plunged straight to the center of my being. “You know we’re dating, right?”, she said. But I knew she meant “I love you”. I looked up at the “Nat Geo” bird clock on the wall and for the sake of prosperity I noted the time. Working side by side with her would be different and that would be ok and that if we had a future together (and we did) this would be the moment it began. It was 1:02 AM, March 15th. Beware the Ides of March, I thought. Your heart will stop, but in reality, it only beat more strongly.