I wake up as the rising sun brings light to the Florida oaks and palms, and my first thought is, "Adriana!" Now I can talk with Adriana. I'd better get my coffee made before it's too late.
Although it is only 7:15 AM in Florida it is 2:15 PM in Romania, and Adriana goes home from her office at 3 PM Romanian time because she starts work very early.
Adriana is an Information Technology specialist with a university diploma in IT, which to me means computers. She is in charge of the computers and computer system at Armax Gaz, a major manufacturer of equipment for the natural gas industry.
My coffee is ready, and I hastily check the weather here and in Medias and in Los Angeles, where my son lives, and also my emails. Sometimes there's a joke or a funny article from Adriana with a subject like, "Let's begin the day with a smile".
Then I open Yahoo Messenger and type something like, "Good morning from Florida! How are you today?" I see a reply soon unless Adriana is busy elsewhere in the big building.
"Good morning!" she says. "I'm fine. Did you sleep well?"
We refer to her as "AF" because she is "always fine" unless she's having a bad day at the office, in which case she might say, "It's a two heads four hands day", in contrast to a normal one head two hands day.
We make lavish use of the emoticons supplied by Messenger, and I'm always glad to see smiles and laughs rather than frowns and angry steam.
On some days Adriana has to stay far past her official quitting time of 3 PM, usually because she's so conscientious that she won't leave until a job is finished. Sometimes she flatters me with the idea that she's staying at her office to talk with me, but eventually, after an entertaining conversation, we say goodbye and I go to breakfast.
We rarely talk much during work day mornings. When I finish lunch I send her a Message about the time I expect to see her after my nap and a swim. This is where the 7 hour time difference can create tension. I've been taking naps after lunch for as long as I can remember, and if lunch is a bit late and I dawdle along at a relaxed pace I may not arrive at my computer until 4:30 -- which is only 30 minutes before midnight in Medias. This results in what I regret having called "the race".
The race is over when I'm sitting at my computer with afternoon coffee, and Adriana and I are once more communicating live. As usual we talk about all kinds of things from the evils of politicians to the glories of outer space -- the two things Adriana despises and loves the most. There's always a lot of humor. Sometimes we're inspired to improvise fantasy stories, as when Adriana saved the cosmos from a Cosmic Turtle which was biting a hole in the universe, threatening to allow the contents to escape as air escapes from a puncture balloon. Adriana flies to the rescue, and after conquering the Cosmic Turtle and patching the hole in the universe she is elevated to Queen of the Universe.
Often at night Adriana is having a snack while she types -- maybe salami, cheese, a "fresh bun", and a pickle. Before going to bed she makes sandwiches for tomorrow and goes out and locks the kitchen, which is a separate building close to the house. Before sleeping she likes to have coffee and a cigarette under the stars. We are alike in that caffeine makes us sleepy -- one reason we speculate that we are of an alien race.
Ending the day is sometimes difficult because Adriana hates to go to sleep. She officially places her bedtime at fifteen minutes after midnight, but she always resists going to bed and sometimes resents my efforts to encourage her to get enough sleep. She doesn't like to end a day, and I think she considers sleep a waste of time. A suggestion from me that it's time to say good night is likely to bring forth a tearful emoticon and "WHAAAAAAAAAA!"
But at some time it must come: "Good night. Sleep well." An emoticon hug and kiss. "Good night!"
And then the next morning I wake up, make coffee, and go to my computer and say good morning to Adriana, and we begin another day of laughs and talk and fantasies. . .
Until one weekend morning about four weeks ago she did not answer. I tried throughout the morning and she did not respond. When she still was not at Messenger when I sent my after-lunch message, I became really worried. It isn't unusual to have an internet service interruption or a power failure, but for so long?
She was not there after my nap, and after midnight in Romania I gave up.
The next morning I went anxiously to my computer and typed, "Good morning! Are you all right?"
The reply was, "Mr. Fleming Lee. . ."
I assumed it was Adriana, and I told her how worried I had been and how glad I was to hear from her, but the next lines told me the most horrible news I have ever endured.
"Ohhhhhh, Mr. Lee. Very bad. Blood vessel burst in Adriana's brain. 8 25. Coma. Kept alive by machines."
I was stunned and began to cry even though I couldn't believe what I was reading. I later realized that Adriana's cousin was at her computer, and I will be eternally grateful to him for letting me know what happened. He said he knew I was the person closest to her.
I asked if she had hit her head. "No hit."
Was there any warning? "No."
I later said to cousin Horea, "Adriana's spirit is conscious. Where is she while she's in this coma?" And he answered, "In space. She loves space." I agreed.
He let me know that the doctors held no hope, but I persisted in believing that she could recover. She was only 39 years old. I am 76. We had always tacitly assumed that she would long outlive me.
I cried most of the time for twenty four hours, trying to picture her back at Messenger. The next day her cousin said there was "zero chance". I dreaded what would come the day after that, and it did:
"Adriana climbed to the stars."
My grief was so intense that even now I can't write more about this.