Last Tuesday, laid down by the stomach flu, I buried myself under ten pounds of blankets and passed the time sweating. I couldn’t move. I just lay in my stinky little nest, pitting out my sheets and my favorite Hanes t-shirt. My hair matted to my forehead. My breath reeked of regurgitated Reese’s peanut butter cups. It was very sexy.
With such limited mobility and energy, all I could really do was close my eyes and think. Some strange thoughts came to me. For instance, I was convinced that I had composed a musical masterpiece called The Blue Danube–a truly amazing revelation given the fact that The Blue Danube was composed in the late nineteenth century by Strauss, and I also have no idea how to read or write music.
Eventually, the fever dreams led me down a literary path. I started contemplating death scenes in stories I’ve read. The classics are full of them! “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” for one. Everything by Dickens. And Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Wuthering Heights is about two childhood friends-turned-lovers, Cathy and Heathcliff, and their tortured desire for each other. Although they are one in terms of love and passion–they are soul mates–they are nonetheless divided by class and ambition. Cathy runs off with some namby-pamby named Edgar Linton–a yawn, but loaded–and breaks Heathcliff’s heart. Her love for Heathcliff, however, does not waver:
What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
And what does Cathy get for resisting her heart?