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Well, not yet, not soon, or probably not, I would console myself, and that welcome but then tediously repeated postponement felt in time less like a threat than like a family obligation—tea with Aunt Molly in Montclair, someday soon but not now. A weariness about death exists in me and in us all in another way, as well, though we scarcely notice it.Death, meanwhile, was constantly onstage or changing costume for his next engagement—as Bergman’s thick-faced chess player; as the medieval night-rider in a hoodie; as Woody Allen’s awkward visitor half-falling into the room as he enters through the window; as W. Fields’s man in the bright nightgown—and in my mind had gone from spectre to a waiting second-level celebrity on the Letterman show. Some people I knew seemed to have lost all fear when dying and awaited the end with a certain impatience. We have become tireless voyeurs of death: he is on the morning news and the evening news and on the breaking, middle-of–the-day news as well—not the celebrity death, I mean, but the everyone-else death. A dead family, removed from a ramshackle faraway building pocked and torn by bullets. The dead in floods and hurricanes and tsunamis, in numbers called “tolls.” The military dead, presented in silence on your home screen, looking youthful and well combed.He was seventy-five at the time, and contemporary social scientists might prefer Casey’s line delivered at eighty-five now, for accuracy, but the point remains. My elder old-maid cousin Jean Webster and her unexpected, late-arriving Brit husband, Capel Hanbury. Chloë Sevigny in “Trees Lounge.” Gail Collins on a good day.We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. The surprise, for me, is that the accruing weight of these departures doesn’t bury us, and that even the pain of an almost unbearable loss gives way quite quickly to something more distant but still stubbornly gleaming. Family ice-skating up near Harlem in the nineteen-eighties, with the Park employees, high on youth or weed, looping past us backward to show their smiles.I like to think of mine as fellow-voyagers crowded aboard the Île de France (the idea is swiped from “Outward Bound”). We elders—what kind of a handle is this, anyway, halfway between a tree and an eel?Here’s my father, still handsome in his tuxedo, lighting a Lucky Strike. —we elders have learned a thing or two, including invisibility. Have I experienced what neurologists call a TIA—a transient ischemic attack?All the dead from wars and natural events and school shootings and street crimes and domestic crimes that each of us has once again escaped and felt terrible about and plans to go and leave wreaths or paper flowers at the site of.

Wildly sociable, like others of his breed, he grew a fraction more reserved in maturity, and learned to cultivate a separate wagging acquaintance with each fresh visitor or old pal he came upon in the living room. Harry took his leave (another surprise) on a June afternoon three years ago, a few days after his eighth birthday. This happened often, and I almost came to count on it, knowing that it wouldn’t last. People my age and younger friends as well seem able to recall entire tapestries of childhood, and swatches from their children’s early lives as well: conversations, exact meals, birthday parties, illnesses, picnics, vacation B. I’m in my late thirties; they’re about nine and six, and I’m complaining about the steep little stretch of road between us and our house, just up the hill. Then I say that one day I’ll be really old and they’ll have to hold me up. Stuff I get excited about or depressed about all the time. Perhaps with a blog recently posted on Facebook by a woman I know who lives in Australia. Friends in great numbers now, taking me to dinner or cooking in for me.

The lower-middle sector of my spine twists and jogs like a Connecticut county road, thanks to a herniated disk seven or eight years ago. Do you think you could help us get a listing in the front of ? I know how lucky I am, and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. Home movies are killers: Zeke, a long-gone Lab, alive again, rushing from right to left with a tennis ball in his mouth; my sister Nancy, stunning at seventeen, smoking a lipstick-stained cigarette aboard Astrid, with the breeze stirring her tied-up brown hair; my mother laughing and ducking out of the picture again, waving her hands in front of her face in embarrassment—she’s about thirty-five.

This has cost me two or three inches of height, transforming me from Gary Cooper to Geppetto. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind. Me sitting cross-legged under a Ping-Pong table, at eleven. My list of names is banal but astounding, and it’s barely a fraction, the ones that slip into view in the first minute or two.

But cheer up: if I reverse things and cover my right eye, there you are, back again. Well, pretty great, unless I’ve forgotten to take a couple of Tylenols in the past four or five hours, in which case I’ve begun to feel some jagged little pains shooting down my left forearm and into the base of the thumb. Like many men and women my age, I get around with a couple of arterial stents that keep my heart chunking.

If I take my hand away and look at you with both eyes, the empty hole disappears and you’re in 3-D, and actually looking pretty terrific today. I also sport a minute plastic seashell that clamps shut a congenital hole in my heart, discovered in my early eighties.

Wildly sociable, like others of his breed, he grew a fraction more reserved in maturity, and learned to cultivate a separate wagging acquaintance with each fresh visitor or old pal he came upon in the living room. Harry took his leave (another surprise) on a June afternoon three years ago, a few days after his eighth birthday. This happened often, and I almost came to count on it, knowing that it wouldn’t last. People my age and younger friends as well seem able to recall entire tapestries of childhood, and swatches from their children’s early lives as well: conversations, exact meals, birthday parties, illnesses, picnics, vacation B. I’m in my late thirties; they’re about nine and six, and I’m complaining about the steep little stretch of road between us and our house, just up the hill. Then I say that one day I’ll be really old and they’ll have to hold me up. Stuff I get excited about or depressed about all the time. Perhaps with a blog recently posted on Facebook by a woman I know who lives in Australia. Friends in great numbers now, taking me to dinner or cooking in for me.

The lower-middle sector of my spine twists and jogs like a Connecticut county road, thanks to a herniated disk seven or eight years ago. Do you think you could help us get a listing in the front of ? I know how lucky I am, and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. Home movies are killers: Zeke, a long-gone Lab, alive again, rushing from right to left with a tennis ball in his mouth; my sister Nancy, stunning at seventeen, smoking a lipstick-stained cigarette aboard Astrid, with the breeze stirring her tied-up brown hair; my mother laughing and ducking out of the picture again, waving her hands in front of her face in embarrassment—she’s about thirty-five.

This has cost me two or three inches of height, transforming me from Gary Cooper to Geppetto. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind. Me sitting cross-legged under a Ping-Pong table, at eleven. My list of names is banal but astounding, and it’s barely a fraction, the ones that slip into view in the first minute or two.

But cheer up: if I reverse things and cover my right eye, there you are, back again. Well, pretty great, unless I’ve forgotten to take a couple of Tylenols in the past four or five hours, in which case I’ve begun to feel some jagged little pains shooting down my left forearm and into the base of the thumb. Like many men and women my age, I get around with a couple of arterial stents that keep my heart chunking.

If I take my hand away and look at you with both eyes, the empty hole disappears and you’re in 3-D, and actually looking pretty terrific today. I also sport a minute plastic seashell that clamps shut a congenital hole in my heart, discovered in my early eighties.

There’s Ted Smith, about to name-drop his Gloucester home town again. Here’s Esther Mae Counts, from fourth grade: hi, Esther Mae. Here I am in a conversation with some trusty friends—old friends but actually not all that old: they’re in their sixties—and we’re finishing the wine and in serious converse about global warming in Nyack or Virginia Woolf the cross-dresser. I didn’t expect to take over the chat but did await a word or two of response. (Women I know say that this began to happen to them when they passed fifty.) When I mention the phenomenon to anyone around my age, I get back nods and smiles. Honored, respected, even loved, but not quite worth listening to anymore. I’ve been asking myself why I don’t think about my approaching visitor, death.