Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Today at work as I was winding my way through the maze of cubicles, I suddenly heard a very familiar sound. It is a sound that I haven't heard in months. It is a sound that I previously had sworn I could absolutely do without. It is a sound that always worked my last nerve. It is a sound so aggravating that when I would hear it in my home I would immediately go looking for it's source. It is a sound that usually led to Michael. It is the sound of BUBBLE WRAP!
Bubble Wrap was created by two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, in 1957. They were trying to invent a plastic wallpaper with a paper backing. Their idea failed, but along the way they realize their invention could be used for packing material. Thus, giving birth to what is now known around the world as Bubble Wrap.
Just before writing this post I looked up "bubble wrap" on Wikipedia. It says that because bubble wrap makes a recognizable "popping" sound when compressed and punctured, it can be used as a source of amusement and to alleviate stress. This certainly was the draw for Michael. He had several little nervous traits such as nail biting, finger tapping and making a popping sound with his lips. Aside from the nail biting, I found these to be quite endearing. Playing with bubble wrap was something he initially found funny to do, especially when he knew that it bugged me. As he quickly learned, it was a sure fire way of getting my attention. Often I would hear the annoying sound, follow it's lead, and find Michael waiting for me with a devilish grin. The popping of bubble wrap was also something that helped him alleviate stress. One of the side effects of the steroids he had to take was a feeling of agitation. When this would come on he needed something in his hands that he could manipulate, and bubble wrap was definitely one thing that did the trick.
So as you may guess, Michael loved bubble wrap. Anytime we received a package he couldn't wait to see what the item was packed in. When we got married many of the gifts were mailed to us with lots of bubble wrap, especially our fine china. In further reading about "bubble wrap" on Wikipedia, it says that 'the bubbles provide the cushioning for fragile or sensitive objects.'
If you were to ask friends of Michael to describe him, a word many would use is "sensitive." The slightest gesture of kindness could evoke a wonderful loving look from him. When something was troubling him he could get very quiet. When he was like this I would put my arms around him, hold him tight, and feel his tensed body quickly relax.
When I first met Michael I would have never thought to describe him as fragile. It's frightening how quickly things can change. The day he received the news that there was a mass in his brain, I received a phone message from him stating that he needed me. His voice was breaking up, and there was a fragility that I had never heard before. In the days that followed we found ourselves in a hospital instead of the cruise to Mexico we were scheduled to be on. My strong guy was suddenly fearing for his life, and I was charged with keeping him together. In the last two years we learned the true meaning of the word "fragile." And in his final days this was defined even further.
It's funny that in reflecting on all of this, one might think that this familiar sound would evoke feelings of sorrow. Yet quite the contrary. As I walked through the office, and was surprised by the very familiar sound, a warmth came over me. It stopped me in my tracks, and I heard myself laugh out loud.
If you look to the right of my page you will find a bubble wrap widget that allows you to pop some bubbles. I will leave it there for a brief period in honor of Michael.