you were here

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I’ve heard it my whole life. You were here. Because I’ve usually been there, it’s true. But now, the Cloud Atlas march in my ears as we wind over and around the Potomac, through Harpers Ferry and Cumberland and Sand Patch, after days of talking about death and forgetting and decline, sudden or gradual, I know I’ve been here. And I know years from now I could be saying it to someone else. But I can’t imagine it. I just can’t. I’ve never been able to project forward like that, even imaginatively. Only backward. What would I say? You’ve been here, and your grandfather before you who almost died here, and me with a lump in my throat after him, thinking of it, of his talk of selling off everything he held dear after he dies for real. No one needs a geography of sadness. It is not a gift.

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