I feel like I need to reassess, to choose a direction again. It’s an odd thing, really, since I don’t know where the process is going exactly or how to navigate it. I’m mostly allowing it to unfold on its own. But I suppose sometimes we’d like the illusion of purpose, even if what we’re doing isn’t getting us anywhere faster than doing something else would.

There are some loose ends. Some things just to be aware of—incomplete thoughts to chase down.

Charlie worries about his thinking. He worries about behaving as though others he interacts with have a set of goals that are shared with him when they really don’t. He worries about his capacity to change this assumption as well as the loneliness of a life for him in which he can never make that assumption again.

And yet there is sort of a way of saving this position, of not having to modify it too much—and it is easier for now if assumptions and preconceived notions and beliefs only need minor tweaks instead of massive overhauls. There are so many of them. If they need overhauls, integration will take a long time.

The tweak is to understand himself (myself) as still part of a collective. His life (my life) is still entwined with Natashka’s. We are still a collective, and in the rest of life we are interacting with the world as a collective alongside separate collectives or as a collective alongside individuals. We don’t necessarily have shared goals with other individuals or other collectives. We might. We might not. But Natashka and I still have the same goals or can. Charlie can still use that frame to understand his world. He doesn’t have to change it. At the moment, the goal is for me to figure out how to be happy again. She no longer needs much of anything for herself, but I do, and my well-being has become her happiness. It probably always was. But when I was a child I had her well-being to worry about too. Now I don’t. Now if I take care of my own, I have taken care of hers also. In that way, life has become easy. It is much easier than it was, and the relative ease of it is maybe something I am not used to. It is perhaps too startling to take in. I don’t know. I think it is.

It feels like I knew this in one part of myself, but other parts of myself didn’t. I have the sense that I knew it as soon as I lay Natashka’s body gently body back on the pavement. Not that I was alone then, but that I was living for two people and my life came with responsibilities now. The questions was, for a long time, what does it mean to live for two people. Does it mean you live out the life the other longed for?

No, it doesn’t mean that. No one wants you to eat her favourite ice cream because she has lost her sense of taste.

Later, I might begin to realize it also means something different than I think it does now, but it seems to mean I take care of myself: I can be happy living, but all she can do is watch me living. I ought to try to live well.

I ought to try to live the way it seems to me she taught me: authentically, kindly, with grace and with courage. I don’t need to do much beyond that.

That’s one loose end tied up.