Dearest Rachel –
Last Thursday, after dinner with the folks, Daniel and I retired to the family room with them as we always do. Mom finished up the washing (yes, that’s her system; it helps that the kitchen counter overlooks the family room, so she’s part of the conversation as she works), and eventually joined us, with the observation that the day happened to be the anniversary of their first date. I don’t recall if either of them mentioned a year, but I suspect the significance might have been greater simply due to the fact that this was one of those years, ones ending in zero or five, so I’m guessing it was in 1957. They’d been an ‘item’ now for sixty-five years.
I did my best to congratulate them on the occasion, but had to confess to a twinge of envy. They’re the model couple for how to ‘happily ever after,’ and, while not entirely unique within the community (especially the church community, although they are one of a minority in terms of age these days, unlike at Prince of Peace Lutheran), they stand as a particular example of the process, both in its ups and downs and how to weather them. I really thought that the two of us would one day be the same – although in fairness, I don’t really remember when our first date was; all I can remember is the first time I spoke to you on Halloween morning back in 1988 (and that mostly because I wasn’t supposed to be able to, considering my costume). You were certainly supposed to live to a ripe old age, given your family history; the only unknown factor would be how long I could last, as my genetic history is something of a mystery.
But of course, that’s a moot point, now. Now, it would seem, the only example I wind up being is how to deal with loss. Not something that happens all that often (at least, not at our age), nor anything I’d wish on anybody else.
I’ve mentioned the song before, but it’s still worth talking about how the day-to-day becomes so routine that you think it will go on forever; or at least, that the days ahead will be so many yet to come; a million of them doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect. In fact, however, we weren’t together for a year beyond ten thousand days. That’s it. Ten thousand days, and too many of those days were spent (by me, at least) somewhere else, with other people. Granted, that was because I had to make a living for the two (and eventually three) of us, but still… how little time we spent together, in the grand scheme of things.
I’m sure this stings that much more today than most just because it’s Saturday, and I’m up way too early to just head off to the Bible study, leaving me with my thoughts. When you were still here, there was no real need for thought, after all; we could just lie around, enjoying each others’ company… in every way that entailed. You know what I’m talking about; much as I’d like to go into detail, this isn’t the place for it (and as I get further and further from those days, my memories of that sort of thing get less clear. I’m probably thinking things were so much better than they were, due to the temporal distance knocking the rough edges from the activities in those moments. Nostalgia is like that, after all).
I think we both thought that would last forever – even passing fifty, we still had that adolescent mindset.
Those big numbers, when they’re counting what seem like little things, don’t seem so large until you add them up. For all that I say that we barely had ten thousand days together, even my folks will find it touch-and-go to get to twenty-five, despite having been together all my life. For the record, counting from that day in 1957, it would still take until Christmas of 2025; and if their marriage were to last that long, they would need to add three years and three months to that. It’s doable, but they’ve got to stay healthy.
Likewise, I could manage another ten thousand days on my own (though why would I want to?); I’d barely be in my eighties by then. Theoretically, if I could find Megumi, I could still give her as much of my time as you got – assuming neither of us encounters a fate like yours – and maybe more, without the pressing commitment of employment. Whether that’s likely is not currently up to me, though, and all I can do is endure the days between days for now.
With that in mind, honey, keep an eye out for me, and wish me luck; I’m going to need it.