The Tunnel of Lasts
From the last day of our final, annual vacation together on the fourth Saturday of August, to our final embrace on the second Tuesday of September, I journey through a dark tunnel of lasts. I feel the reality of my decree begin to crack open under my feet, as if a real, physical fissure has opened in the very architecture of the universe, and this is where, entering into the crack, I replay the events precedent to when my life became a vulnerable, gaping maw.
I feel life accelerate with no way to disengage the pedal. The minivan packed with pillows, sandy pails and six ounce drink boxes; the ferry ride to Orient Point and grabbing the brass rings on the antique carousel in Greenport; the last ride on our bowrider and the last Japanese curry with his mom; the last little league award picnic, sunset on the beach, family barbeque; the last splash of aftershave and bowl of cereal shared with little boys before school; the last embrace, kiss, smile, I love you.
As the events replay in my mind, I mourn them all with ardent awe. The doleful reverie is the very evidence that Dave existed and we lived a robust life.
The emptiness of the reflection pools at the end of the tunnel, drills itself into me as I pass through the plaza and run my hands along the smooth, blackened steel, cast with names that gape downward into the abyss. 2,650 husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends living the dream are here. And then, they are gone. The emptiness rushes below me in the bedrock, out of sight, but I could feel it flowing through me, its vastness threatening to drown me in its void, to erase us all forever from the memory of what it is to live in the presence of those we love, in the land of opportunity, to be a dreamer, to be American.
I have fought back against the black holes that threaten to suck me into despair, I tell myself that I will keep alive what he believed, in his own words; there are many things to do in life, in the time that is left…and to get a lot of fun. To live is to work, to get what you can in life. If we could keep it alive and warm inside during the years to come, we will be able to return to creating the life we dream, perhaps we can even constitute the America we conceive.
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