Letters from Andy: 9


This will be my last letter. Cynthia made a good choice, this cemetery looks really beautiful in the autumn. The section right behind you two has a hill where I can just barely make out the Manhattan skyline. I wonder if the trees here know that orange is your favorite color. Sorry, was your favorite color. I suppose you don't really have a preference now.

I've stopped taking JuVen. Roy passed away six months ago from liver cancer. I thought we had figured that disease out, but I guess they haven't nailed down treatments for every form. He was pretty old too, so I don't even think he would have wanted to fight it. It's not right to outlive both your kids. If I'm not careful, I might even outlive my grandkids. Tabitha and Merou are about to be in their sixties, and Tabs is gonna have grandkids of her own. How wild is that? In a few months I'm going to be a great great grandfather.

I'm done with physics. I'm sure I could join another company and let them wring another decade or two out of my brain, but they wouldn't do anything good with it anyways. My doctor said that I might even make it to 200 if I keep a good lifestyle, because my body takes unusually well to JuVen. I let them draw a blood sample for research, but I think that should be my last contribution to science.

I was trying to figure out how many connections I still have left, since there's so many people I want to say goodbye to. I'm not on the greatest terms with Clair's family, since Roy was the one who kept that connection. I considered reaching out to Arthur, since I heard he's got some big role in that new government they're setting up in the Pacific northwest. But I honestly don't know if he would recognize me. Are we even the same people after a century? It's weird I can measure my life with a century now. I remember how radically different my outlook on life became after JuVen, and if he's still going strong at this age, who knows what's going on in his head. If you plan on living well into your hundreds, a friend from college might feel as insignificant as a friend from preschool.

I only have the energy for one more move, so I think I'll move in with Tabs and her family in the Netherlands. I don't speak a word of Dutch, but I don't suppose I'll need to learn a lot. My doctor says that once I stop the JuVen, I'll become a very old man very abruptly. Who knows how often I'll even leave the house?

The thought of being too old to take care of myself is terrifying, but I guess it shouldn't be. If you were here, you'd probably tell me, "It's just the way things are, there's no point in being scared." And then I'd realize that my life can still be meaningful, even if I'm too old to know my own name, and I'd think about you and smile. You aren't here to tell me that, but now I think I can finally believe myself when I say it.

Do you want to hear something crazy? You died exactly 68 years ago today. We've been without you nearly as long as we had you. That doesn't feel right, somehow. It feels like since you died, I've just been living one long epilogue to my life. Which is strange, because I spent most of my early decades living the prologue to my life. When did I actually live?

I guess there's no best way to spend your time. Everything that happens is just the sum of your choices and the people you meet, and a lot of it is beyond your control. Maybe you could have told me that — maybe you actually did tell me that once. If you ever did, I don't think I listened. Sometimes advice doesn't make any sense until you come to the realization by yourself. I think I finally understand how you did it.

I would finish this with "see you on the other side," but I'm too smart to believe in another side. This was all I got.

Love you until the end,