On Friday, after the crowd sang Happy Birthday to me, I made a joke about it being the twentieth anniversary of my twenty-first birthday, and, even as I said it, I realized, then, that it was the twentieth anniversary of my Uncle B.’s death. Which must be true, seeing as that’s how physics work. Things that happened at the same time happened at the same time and thus retreat into the past at the same rate.
I never think of turning twenty-one. My Uncle B. is almost always in my thoughts. I go to the Civil War battlefields I know he enjoyed and I think about whether he’d be able to traverse them or not. I wander through museums and I look for the most obscure stuff and I try to suck all the meaning I can from them because I know it’s the kind of thing he’d enjoy. I try to treat children as interesting people with important things to say because that’s how he treated me and I know how important it was to me.
So, it feels to me that he must have died quite recently. Long enough ago that it doesn’t suck every day that he’s gone, but recently enough that it’s still strange that he’s not here, that my habit is still to take into consideration how he would think about things.
I have to believe this is why people came to believe there was something more to this world than just the here and now–this feeling that the long dead aren’t that far away.