Q is putting on his socks and I am lying beside him, reading a magazine and thinking. We are both morning people, but that doesn't mean we wake up chattering. We are quiet in the morning: calm and happy, to be sure, but quiet, nonetheless. We don't talk just to fill the silence. We speak only when we have something important to say.
"I think you should know that we may have to paint the dining room," I say.
Q continues his sock work. He glances incuriously at me and then at the magazine: it is open to a two-page spread of a dining room painted a pale yellow. Our is currently a rich red, and has been for about ten years. We have loved its richness: it is a wonderful Christmas dining room, a glorious Thanksgiving dining room. But time marches on.
"Well, we have other priorities that come first," he says. I know he means replacing a downspout and a gutter on one side of the house. I try not to roll my eyes. That'll be a thrill.
How odd you are, I tell him silently. Q seems never to wonder what things would look like if they were a color other than the color they are. Or if they were placed in a manner other than the manner in which they placed. But of course he doesn't: this is a man who still wears the bathrobe he wore at Amherst. Q was Class of 1950.
Aloud, I am more diplomatic.
"Well, I just wanted you to know what I'm thinking." I don't know when we'll get around to painting the dining room. It could be years from now. But I can feel it in my bones: its days as the Red Room are numbered.
To have and to hold. To hold the past, yet walk together into an unknowable future. To act when you do not know for sure, as we never know for sure, what will happen because you have acted. To bump mystifyingly along together, called by different things, fired by different passions, awkward and graceful by turns in the paired dance of life together. Until we are parted by death.
"If you go first, you have to come back and tell me you're okay," I tell him.
"Okay," he says, "I'll certainly do my best."
"I'll be looking for you."
"I'll do my best," he says again.
"Well, so will I, then, if it's me."
Until we are parted by death. Yes, and even after.
This Saturday, September 29th from 9-4 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Metuchen NJ: Body and Soul: A Health Expo. Admission is free. Practitioners of many different healing arts will be there, a delicious box lunch will be available, and Barbara Crafton will be one of two keynote speakers (her talk begins at 2:30 pm). Deacon Joanna Depue will also be there as a healing touch practitioner. St. Luke's is at the corner of Rt. 27 and Oak Avenue; telephone 732-548-4308, ext 10, or visit www.stlukes17.org.