“The There that’s there”
A little less than two weeks to go, and the stand-by list continues to hold in my favor. Flying standby has its own contestant on The Price Is Right thrill and drama attached to it. But I’m making as much as I am about this trip because it’s not at all about getting away. It’s about heading to a place that is still unknown to me. It can’t be found on a map or listed on a train schedule. Yet, that’s the way I’m trying to get there. Like Hugh Conway in Lost Horizon. Except my Shangri-La was taken from me, and what I’m seeking is not something that could ever replace it. So what is it exactly that I’m looking for?
Fat, drunk and stupid may have been no way for John Blutarsky to go through life, but blindly plowing ahead with no clear idea of what you’re looking for would hardly seem an improvement. Still, I know there’s something out there, because if there isn’t, then what Carolyn and I had amounted to was simply incidental and ephemeral. And I know it wasn’t.
The easy explanation is that social media enabled us to meet again after forty years. But that doesn’t explain the trap door opening of two lived lives that had to occur to actually bring us together. It was a moonshot, but one that was more like Apollo 13 than Apollo 11. Back east, I was struggling on how to make a de facto separation from a long marriage permanent and legal, and Carolyn was struggling with…nothing as far as I could tell. In both cases it seemed as if we’d both come to expect that we were destined to live out our lives alone. Then came the magic and the miracle.
Four days together was followed by a week, and then came two weeks traveling in Bavaria. That should have been the stress test we both failed. Instead, we finished up wishing we could fly home, do a wash and start all over again. It remained that way for the next five years. How we began this second time may not have been good, but we both believed it was right. And then, after a while, it was good, too.
There was from the beginning, though, a sixth sense that starting out in our sixties, we should not feel secure about the time we would have to be together. We had meaningful talks about longevity, and agreed to live each day as if it were two to get the most out of whatever time we did have. Turns out we were off by a considerable factor. We should have been living each day as if it were four, or six, at least.
The leukemia that took Carolyn’s life took it swiftly, leaving us no time to even make a proper goodbye. That was a blessing. When she slipped into a medically induced coma, she slipped away fully believing she would re-emerge and eventually be cancer-free. She went into the hospital happy and confident, and she was able to die that way. She never knew that her form of leukemia was refractory, namely, it was impervious to treatment. Carolyn did not have to face what in all probability would have been a difficult and painful road that would have extended her life at best by months instead of years, without much in the way of quality to go along with it.
So I know she wants me to live happy just as she was able to up to her last breath. That’s what’s out there. I won’t find it in two weeks that much I do know. But I’m hoping for clues to emerge from, say, paths diverging in a yellow wood. Maybe a windmill or two to tilt at as well.
From wherever she is, she is smiling. This is the Reid I know. Keep going forward, my Yak Boy.
There’ll be some eye rolls along the way at what she’ll see of some familiar overreaches and overthinking. It’s she alone who knows where I’m heading. Because she’s already there and waiting, just as she was five years ago.