~Written on July 25, 2006~
Today I hooked up a Belgian draft horse to a carriage and practiced driving at the company farm on Cane Island. Clouds of dust billowed from the gelding’s giant hooves on the dirt road. M was puffing away on a cigarette, and of course it reminded me of Jason.
“How long do you want to live?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I never thought about it before.”
“Most people haven’t until something bad happens,” I sighed, wiping the sweat off my forehead.
Later I interrupted the clomping beat of the horse’s steps by asking him what it was like growing up without a mom. She died when M was three years old, and his uncle died recently.
He exhaled a cloud of smoke, eyes half-closed with his usual look of boredom. “It was hard. Kids even made fun of me on Mother’s Day because she wasn’t around.” My heart tightened, worrying about Caleb.
“Jason promised to play baseball with Caleb, but he died the next day.”
This statement prompted M to ask the inevitable question: “How did he die?”
I didn’t want to answer that question again.
“I’m not here to judge,” he said gruffly, pulling his Carolina baseball cap lower over his eyes and sitting back on the bench seat.
After describing what happened, I told him it was the best thing in the world to be married. He asked why. I said it’s because you always have your best friend with you every day, and they want to listen to everything you have to say, even if it’s stupid. Our coworker Frank told him the same thing. I guess it was good to talk about it, even to someone I really don’t know.
Instinctively, I lecture someone else about his unhealthy habits, and I describe marriage with memories and stars in my eyes. It’s something he should not miss! But the sugarcoating wore off too quickly…
I talked about how harsh the world is, and how I want to be in heaven because there is only more pain to come on earth.
…My parents and the rest of my family will die too.
With the first sign of interest, M said I can’t think of it that way. He said that they will die and go to heaven, and then I will too. Then I’ll be there together with my family and my husband.
That’s really a good way to put it.
We were coming from two different perspectives. I was trying to convince him to look forward to the future. My marriage is over, but he countered that life is still worth living without it. With everything in front of me, why do I debate against life?