An e-mail from L: We took a drive today, she writes of herself and her husband, who is ill. That’s all, she writes, we don’t even stop for lunch anymore.
And my first thought is, I would be so happy to take Dan for a drive.
Dan has been dead for years. I still think about him maybe three times a day, in part because of this blog. That’s down from 100 in the weeks after his death, or 50 in the months after.
I’m happy in my life, with my friends, our activities, my volunteer work. I’ve traveled much of the world, one country at a time. My job was OK, and now that I’m retired, life is even better, and my bills are still paid.
But I would give all that up in an instant to be able to take the ailing Dan for a drive. The peace of it, the privacy of the car, just the two of us with the windows rolled down, the air fragrant with heat or mown grass, the hint of autumn or a coming shower. We could drive along the Hudson River and look across it to the Catskill Mountains. We could admire pumpkins line up for sale in October or the low sky over Lake Taghkanic in December.
Imagining this, I’m recalling a drive when he was ill. We met a friend for dinner in Rhinebeck. Dan refused to use his walker and did something mildly demented at dinner, but we all got through it and then we hugged our friend good-bye and headed back home. The next four months were hell, and then it was over. But for forty minutes that evening, sweet May air filled the car, and the sunset clouds ahead of us were blushed with rose.
I didn’t have to worry about his falling; he didn’t have to struggle to be something that he no longer was. For an hour we were safe, together.