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And this is our life,
Exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks,
Sermons in stones,
and good in everything.
I would not change it.


These tan shoes with worn laces are from our dancing days, our wedding on the hill, you being the only man whose shoe size I ever memorized. Twenty six years of ordering L.L. Bean Wicked Good slippers, size 11D for Christmas. Whose social security number is linked in my brain to my own. The number of surgeries you have had.


And these are surf shoes from summers long gone when you and the boys waded in the bay, collecting sea life to study, bringing a portion of the ocean back home in sloshing aquariums. I'm sorry if I complained or took what you did for granted.


These are old black work boots from 25 years of working in the midst of wetlands, issued every two years, so there are twelve pairs of them in various closets, you who want to keep everything the same. And the endings of movies to be always happy.


Separately, my blood-stained black boots from the night we almost lost one son, the night our hearts broke individually and as one. But mercifully, you have forgotten the details.


You have also forgotten the blue leather beaded moccasins you drove two hours and back to buy. I wore them so much, they became dangerous, the soles so smooth they disappeared. I finally threw them away just last week.


Today you tell me I was the one who loved camping and the ocean, that you would rather have stayed home, that until recently our age difference never mattered. You wished by some magic when you turned 73, so would I. But that was last April and we both just got another year older.


Tomorrow we will go to a neurologist together because there was a cancellation.


What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wilderness? Let them be left
O let them be left, wilderness and wet;
Long live the weeds and wilderness yet.

Inversnaid excerpt by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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