For roughly 9 years (we actually don’t know when we first got together) Margie and I have lived together. We went to bed together every night, we woke up in each others arms. She even once had a cute little thing to say about brushing our teeth in the same sink. She made her cakes in the kitchen, and on occasion, I wrote in the living room. We watched movies on the couch together. As our busy lives ticked away we always had the fact that we were living together to come back to at the end of the day. That is no longer the case.
In January of 2022, I had to undergo open-heart surgery. Most of you know this story. If you don’t, I wrote an entire book, The Beat Goes On, that chronicles my journey. This includes a brief flirtation with death. After all of that, my life, and consequently our life, was never the same. You would think this would happen all at once. That it may be one of those epiphany moments. It didn’t. There were small changes. Especially after writing the afore-mentioned book, realizations began to dawn on me. This began to create changes in my life. My writing took on a new sense of urgency. My humor became far more valuable. Of course, as the title of this post says, Margie and I stopped living together.
Why after years together and coming out of such a traumatic experience, would we choose to stop living together? Let me clarify. We are still under the same roof. We still look forward to collapsing in each other arms after a long hard day. We still watch movies on the couch. How can I say that we don’t live together? The reason I say that is there was a dramatic shift in how we perceive our relationship. When you are living with someone, you are just going through a day-by-day existence. What my medical adventure taught us is that we are actually dying together.
At first blush, this may sound a bit morbid. The thing that makes life so valuable is the fact that it ends. If it were not for the possibility of death, life would cease to have much meaning. What sounds scary, but it never-the-less true, is that every second we live, we are one second closer to death. It is that constant ticking of the clock that should make every second more and more valuable. When Margie and I realized that we were slowly dying together, everything became more precious. Moments we spend in the kitchen being silly. Nights that I read to her in bed. Trips to the grocery store. You never know when any of there could be the last of its kind.
Knowing that everyone we are share our life with, we are actually slowly dying together may sound like one of the most dark ways of thinking, but it is the opposite. Could you really be mad at the driver who cut you off if you think about the fact that both of you are on earth dying together? Him, perhaps sooner if he continues to drive like a fool. How about the customer that is rude to you? Your life, and theirs, is continually growing shorter. Are you really going to waste any of it on anger? I think the realization that we are all on earth dying together fosters a sense of compassion for a stranger. You never know when their life, or yours, could end. Make every second the precious treasure it is.
As for the beautiful (and smart, she is not just beauty.) lady that I share my home with, we are no longer living together and we have never been happier or more in love.