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Five years ago I woke from a dream and looked around me. I had thought I had love and happiness in my hands, and now I found they had slipped through my fingers like water.

The sense of loss was appalling. There were moments it would have been easier to die – except that death runs on nobody’s schedule. It will come when we don’t want it to come; it is not as easy as we might think, to make it come when we do.

And so we live, in spite of ourselves, and eventually the living gets us through. Meanwhile the years are adding up, and we find that even though we feel we are the same people we have always been, we are not. Wiser, maybe; older, for sure.

This may sound morbid, but I don’t think it is. At the heart of the matter is the old philosophical question: if we could have eternal life, would we want it? Is it not perhaps the very fact that life is finite, that it is a constantly accelerating journey through time and space, through a thousand experiences and feelings and emotions and discoveries, towards some unknown end, that gives life its meaning, that makes wisdom possible, that makes love and reconciliation necessary and desirable? Is it not death that shows us, in the end, the infinite possibilities of being human?

Living for ever – I find myself thinking of the characters in A Clockwork Orange, eyes taped wide open, forced to listen to music that goes on and on and will never stop. Eternity? No thanks, not really.

I wrote to Rob the other day, that we should look forward to twenty good years together, or more. She wrote back, people are living longer these days, look at how well your mom is doing: we can be active and happy well into our eighties.

Hopefully so. But in the end it will not be about the number of years – at least, not that only – but about living our lives well. And that opportunity, five years further on, is precisely what Rob has given me.

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