I thought a lot about death. I think a man should. A woman, too.
I never welcomed death, never asked for it. It asked for me, once. You remember, the building came down. It was ’73, I saw Led Zeppelin that year. I was in their tour shirt when they were digging me out. Of course you remember. I could smell death then. I always left that bit out. I could smell death and dust. They dug me out and death turned away and I left it there.
There was this calmness. Everything was OK. It was OK to miss a bus or pay taxes or that your shoelace broke. Do you remember that Bukowski poem? That a broken shoelace would finally break a man? Everything was broken in me, but everything was OK, because death had left me, and there was you.
I thought then that, in that clarity, simplicity, that I never loved you more. Because it was so simple to love you when it was all that mattered.
They tell you that, that those other things don’t matter. I don’t know who. Dying men, probably. But then everything again – life, as it does – the wars and I don’t know – I can’t remember it now. You know, life. The car’s out of gas and that sort of thing.
I felt bad that I could never love you that much again. I thought that for a long time. I never told you that.
It asks for me now, death does. I can hear it.
I did break a shoelace, once. We were walking to work, holding hands and I broke that shoelace. It came to me this morning. I was wrong, about loving you the most then. It was all those other moments, with distractions and noise and problems and our shoelaces broken; and we kept on loving anyway. Those were the ones.