You are talking to me but the wind is blowing so fast and so sharp up the street that I cannot hear a single word, the second they leave your lips they’re carried away. But still, I am watching. I am trying to read you the way my grandmother used to read me. She was deaf but could read a story half way across the room, and I’ve been thinking about her all day. So, it doesn’t bother me that I cannot hear you today. You start to laugh and I laugh too and I know we’ve reached the end of the story and that the end was funny. In a weird way, this blankness, the not knowing, makes me feel really good for the first time today. I want to reach out and peel the strand of hair that has gotten caught to your lip while you spoke, but I restrain myself because touching you, today, feels like too much.
I am not sure I will be able to make it home for her funeral and this makes me think about all the funerals I have been to in the last few years and about how many more I will attend. I wrote recently in an essay, that when people start dying I get strange about being alive. And my class talked a lot about it, about what this meant. And I don’t think I knew when I wrote it, but I know now. It’s like when you get sick and everything feels so much harder, and you realize your normal baseline is like a fucking superpower. When people die, I suddenly remember I’m still alive and I start acting out in all these ways to test my blood and my brain and make sure they know it too. It seems right to me that I was reading while she was dying. And the book I was reading at that moment told me, “the second half of our life is just picking up the tab for the pleasures of the first.” And I keep repeating that to myself over and over again. So, just before you leave to go tell the story I never heard to someone else, I do reach out and touch your lip and move that hair. And my finger to your lip sends an electrical current through my body so hard it makes me dizzy. And everything inside of me is reminded, we are still alive. And I decide I going to continue to rack up this tab as much as I possibly can.