I sometimes lay awake at night fretting over the all the unsolved mysteries in the world. Not just unsolved historic crimes, but the deeper mysteries of the universe and our minuscule role within it.
I know I can’t solve them. Maybe nobody can. But that doesn’t stop my brain from chewing over them late into the night.
It had been much worse lately on account of this case that had been occupying all my time.
I was driving through the pouring rain. The staccato rhythm of it on the bonnet of my car, kept to a steady beat by the THUMP THUMP THUMP of my windshield wipers were the only sounds to keep me company.
This was the longest drive of my life. I was about to wrap up a mystery that had been open for a very long time.
This mystery was deeply personal and I was actually a bit afraid of closing it. My pursuit of it had come to define me—as a detective, as a man, as a human being. I felt that closing it just might mean losing something important.
Who would I be after this drive was over? What would I do next?
I feared that after this I would be irrevocably altered. I feared that I’d discover a deeper mystery under this one—one that I wouldn’t be able to solve.
It seemed like my entire life had led me to this point. And yet I was entirely unprepared for what would come next. It was all I could do to not turn the car around and head back to my office.
But despite my gloomy fears, I was glad to be closing this once and for all. And more importantly—I believed it would lead to good things for everyone involved.
How could it not? No matter how overwhelming the emotions, no matter how uncertain the future, at least this chapter would come to a close, wind to its inevitable conclusion. Come what may.
I found myself thinking back over the last few years and managed a wistful smile. It had been very difficult at times, but there was a lot to appreciate about it too.
There’s a lot to be said for being involved in something so much bigger than yourself. And it’s not everybody that is fortunate enough to be able to experience this sort of daily challenge.
As if that small smile I allowed myself was infectious, I found my fingers tapping out a counter-rhythm to the windshield wipers. I smiled more broadly and allowed myself some optimism.
I was happy this case happened. Happy to have been a part of it. Happy I was bringing it to a close. Happy that, however it turned out, something new likely waited on the other side.
I reached down and snapped on the radio.
I hummed along to the tune that now filled the car, “and I think to myself… what a wonderful world.”
Wonderful, indeed. Instead of fretting, I needed to see this as an opportunity. The potential to ruin lives is, when viewed from another angle, an opportunity to rebuild. No door would shut without a window opening, as my grandmother used to tell me.
That’s what this was—an opportunity. I’d learned a lot about myself while solving this mystery and whatever came next—it would offer me greater opportunities for growth.
I was sure that the future was spread out before me, with more enticing potential than I could even imagine. I just had to wrap up this before I could move on and discover what that potential truly was.
The rain had stopped and the sun was out when I finally reached my destination. I’d made that drive many times, but it had never seemed so long.
I got out of the car, went up the walk, and knocked on the door.
The rain, the sun, these things caused life to bloom. I hoped this wasn’t idle fantasy, but a good omen.
She opened the door and, although I hadn’t planned it this way, my emotions drove me to my knee. I took her hand with my right and reached into my pocket with my left. I fumbled a moment and pulled out a small box. My heart was in my throat. “Holly,” I said, “Would you make me the most fortunate man in the world and agree to be my partner in business and in life? Would you marry me?”
Her eyes went wide and she opened her mouth to answer…