Wish You Were Here: A Novel: Epilogue


Seth

I told her that it was very likely I would never learn to be poetic in our lifetime but that I loved her more than the ocean and Obi and baseball and myself. She responded with, “That, number twelve, is the most poetic thing anyone has ever said to me.” She also told me she loved me and that it meant forever.

Charlotte gave me an envelope the day after we got married. She said, “I didn’t read this because I promised Adam I wouldn’t, and he was my husband and I loved him. I will never break a promise to you, either.”

I opened the envelope later that day, read it to myself, and heeded the words I found so beautifully true and full of hope. Then I tucked the letter in a drawer, where I imagine it will stay until I die.

To Charlotte’s second husband . . . whoever you are:

Taking care of another person the way Charlotte took care of me doesn’t necessarily stoke desire, but we all know that marriage often leads to someone taking care of someone. Hopefully it goes like this: at the end, you’re in Boca Raton, in a sun-filled home with slanted ceilings, decorated in pastels and plastic flowers, dusted weekly by a housekeeper. There’s bland food but it’s plentiful, and there are pink flamingos, lawn jockeys, bingo nights, flu shots, and the occasional evening out, a candlelit dinner where you ask for the low-sodium option. Charlotte gets tipsy on one glass of wine, and after you check your blood sugar, you each have a bite of peanut butter pie and then you hold her hand all the way to the car.

At home you talk about your children, about how they’re not all perfect but you love them. You reminisce about your many years of marriage, you imagine yourselves young, and you come together again for the millionth time.

Eventually one of you takes care of the other until the end, but the one who is left will follow soon, and you’ll meet up in the same place you’ve been meeting all these years, which is “somewhere in the middle,” with a memory of youth close by.

She gave me this gift before she could have possibly had the wisdom to understand its meaning. I just wanted to say, I hope you know how lucky you are.

—Adam


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