Subject: January 21, 2006
Date: Jan 21 2006 8:35AM
I remember once fishing until dawn, and on the way in the breaking mist was so breathtaking that I had to stop the motor just to sit and watch. The pink new light of the eastern sky gathered in the pockets of clear air over the water, and the gentle swells rocked the boat in place like a lullaby. I could have fallen asleep right there were it not for the memory of my wife at home waiting for me. She worried sometimes when I was out at night, and I did not want her to wake up worrying. So I watched the dawn only until the sun peeked up over the water, then I resumed the way in.
As was my way, I was home, cleaned up, and ready for bed before she was awake. This time, though, I sat in the chair in the corner of the bedroom just to watch her sleep. As she slept on her side of the bed, I could see that even in her sleep she remembered me just by the position she kept. As I sat in the chair, I greedily absorbed this memory. I wanted to gratify her longing but I had my own solitary one too. Perhaps I was being selfish, but I could not help but take more in that moment than I gave. And I remember her today the better for it.
What surprises me about my own death isn't wanting to live twice because of dying; it's wanting to live twice because of loving, because of the memories it brings, because of the people I've met who will or won't remember me, because of the water on which I've sailed and driven that cannot remember me, but I love it anyway. My wife will miss me as desperately as she loves and remembers me, and I find myself wanting to live again to rectify her pain. Without her, the world crowds around me and I feel like an intruder; I can only imagine how oppressive it will be to her once I am gone.
My best and last hope is that the people she has loved and lost will come to comfort her when she loses me; that those who love her now will console her; that the water that tolerates no memories will still hold some for her because I loved it as I loved her too. We shared that, a love of the water, even though I most often took it in in solitary enjoyment. Perhaps when I'm gone she will see a dawn break over the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and remember me, why I loved it, and why I loved her most of all.