Mum reminded me that I’m on the last stretch of this queer and strange age called ‘teenage years’. In five months, I’ll be twenty, and looking back to five years ago when I decided to come here to England and go to college and then university here, nothing of what I thought would happen did happen.
We were supposed to go to a Halloween party this evening, but we cancelled and took a drive instead. For some reason, maybe because of Halloween, we ended up at my sister’s grave. We did what most Swedes do at this time of year, we brought candles to it, and light them. Then I sent pictures to mum, who rang back, surprised that I had gone there on my own.
For half a million years, at least, humans have buried their dead instad of leaving the deceased out to be eaten by carrion animals. The Neanderthals are the earliest – that we know of – to have put grave gifts into the holes they dug for their dead. In Shanidar, in Iraqi Kurdistan, the 35-year-old Neanderthal male known, poetically, as Shanidar IV, was buried with flowers known to be medicinal. In La Chapelle-aux-Saints in France, relatives of one Neanderthal individual took such care to inter the deceased that archaeologist now can study the careful grave.
It struck me, one day Mark will put me in a hole like this, or I’ll put Mark in one. Whoever goes first will. And I realised that if I was left alone, I’d keep that grave in such a meticulous state that you wouldn’t believe it. Because I wouldn’t do it for Mark, but for myself. Just like mum does it for her, and not for Ellie. Ellie is gone, the memories are the only thing that remain. Whoever of us two went first, would want to keep a monument to the memories. A grave. A reminder.
What a strange way of thinking, I thought, that I was assuming that we’d stay together for a whole life, just like that. Then mum said that, the reminder that in five months I’ll be 20. Not a teenager anymore. Not a kid? Not this immature dolt who have spent so much energy chasing after impossibles, only to stumble head-first into the unthinkables.
So, the fifteen year old me who got the bright idea to leave Sweden, go here to England, go to college here and then to university. Oxbridge of course. Nothing else would do. That turned out not to be true. Instead of dithering in the closet, lying awake at night wondering if my parents would hate me if they found out I was gay, I’m married. From the impossibles to the unthinkable, yeah. And weirder still, there I sat on a grave with the unthinkable husband and thought about how I’d keep his grave spotless.
I can think that we’ll be together forever. It feels true. It feels right. It doesn’t feel like wishful thinking. I know him so well; know every tick and every quirk and every flaw and every perfection. I can finish his thoughts, and he can finish mine. When he starts to move, I can predict what he is going to do. We don’t really have to speak; only watch each other. Small cues will reveal all, by now.
He can be so infuriating sometimes, and can be the most annoying person in the world, but isn’t that because he’s the rock my wave can beat against, and it will never fail? In that, there’s certainty. In that, there’s assurance. In that, there’s solidity and predictability and… trust. Sitting at the grave of my dead sister, thinking about putting Mark in such a hole, I know it is a likely outcome. Weird as it sounds, that means we’ll have decades together. In the end, all things end, but we’re a long way from that.
And that’s the best thing of all, to know. And that was the most unthinkable thing of all five years ago.
I hit the jack-pot the first time I tried the relationship game.