This doesn’t end well.
I had a supremely good day today; slept in until 10:30, programmed my first real project in C# (and discovered that though it was a new language, I still had some tricks to teach the native programmers), went out and sanded and stained a bookcase, and then wrote a good 900 words on my new book.
Then Gini and I went out to our backyard, lit up a fine cigar, and drank some exquisite bourbon as the sun set and the fireflies crept out across the yard and shooting stars streaked across a cloud-filled sky.
This still doesn’t end well.
It’s been about fourteen months since Rebecca died, and the world still doesn’t make much sense some days. She was six years old. She died on her birthday. She got brain cancer, and it swelled and grew in her skull until she stopped breathing while I knelt at her bedside, my hand on her ankle.
This doesn’t end well. None of it does.
And I know the end is coming. Gini is eleven years older than I am. Chances are good she’ll die before I will, and what will I do when the love of my life is gone? I’m a heart patient; I feel a twinge in my chest and there’s my mortality, raw and throbbing, that clammy reminder that one day I will be back on the ventilator – or worse, condemned to the backwaters of some old-age home, helpless and weak as overworked nurses ignore me for hours at a time.
It doesn’t end well.
These sun-touched clouds are so beautiful.
And Rebecca is dead, and with it my last hopes of a just universe. I suppose I should have learned that lesson from my own triple bypass, but I was already forty-two, and that’s a good age for someone to die – a little premature, but I’d lived a lot of life.
Here I am, bourbon in my hand, and Rebecca never got to taste alcohol.
None of this ends well.
And yet that is the lesson: None of this ends well. The end game for all of us is death, and yet this day I feel oddly cheerful. I cannot hope to cling to any of this. Our bodies will fail, and this will all be ripped away from me, and yet…
This cigar is beautiful.
My wife’s hand is warm in mine.
We made wishes upon the stars.
I will not get to keep this. But that is not the goal. The goal is to appreciate what we have, in this slim instant between birth and the void, and today I lived every minute of my life to the best of my ability. I savored that cigar. I poured my heart into those 900 words. I wrestled that program into submission.
(I stained the bookcase terribly, but even in that, I learned wonderful new crafts techniques.)
This cannot last. But it’s been good, as long as it’s been. And my goal is not to hold onto these moments forever, but to cherish them while they are here. I have been married to the love of my life for fifteen good years, and maybe that ends tomorrow, but every day of that has been something to appreciate, and even if it goes away that’s more than most people got.
The dog rolls in the grass. The cigar ember smolders. My wife smiles as she plans her next trip to Seattle. And when it is done, we will pour another glass of fine bourbon, and put on Battlebots, and cheer as robots smash each other to flinders.
Rebecca is gone. But we are here. And it would be a disservice to the bright streak of Rebecca’s life if we lost that future happiness to darkness, and we do not forget the darkness but tonight we celebrate the life we have left, and huddle tight around a dwindling fire.
She is gone.
This does not end well.
That does not mean the story is not worth telling.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.