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He’s Going Back to His Former Wife. Sort Of.

来源:纽约时报    2018-07-05 11:28

        “There’s something I have to tell you,” John said.        “我有事要告诉你,”约翰说。
        Do you remember ever wanting to hear the sentence after that one? I don’t. “There’s something I have to tell you” has never, in the history of man, been followed by “We won the lottery” or “I have discovered a cure for blindness.” This is especially true when the person uttering that sentence is your husband, and he is about to die.        你有哪次在听到这句话之后,是想听到下一句的?我没有过。“我有事要告诉你”,在男性的历史上,这句话之后从来不是伴随着“我们中了彩票”,或者“我找到了治愈失明的方法。”尤其是,说这话的人是你的丈夫,而且他就要死了。
        I’m not a big believer in deathbed confessions. I intend to keep it all to myself, unless my own “There’s something I have to tell you” is “You were always my favorite,” to whoever walks in the room.        我不是临终忏悔的忠实信徒。我打算把一切想法都留给自己,我要说的那句“我有事要告诉你”后面跟的肯定是一句“你永远是我的最爱”,无论走进房间的人是谁。
        Everybody should be at my deathbed. You won’t regret it.        所有人都应该来围观我的弥留之际。包您满意。
        John and I were lying in the cramped hospital bed that I had installed in my bedroom because I had decided to go full pioneer woman and tend to him myself. I’m still not sure why. Normally I am the queen of outsourcing. Also, I am a terrible nurse.        我和约翰躺在狭窄的病床上,这是我安装在卧室里的,因为我决定当一个彻底的先驱女性,亲自照顾他。我也不知道这是为什么。平时我可是外包女王。另外,我是个糟糕的护士。
        But my decision to care for him at home was made in an instant. He wanted to be here. Our 16-year-old twin boys desperately wanted him here. And so did I, despite the fact that this was the first time we had lived together in 25 years of marriage. We had always kept separate homes.        但我瞬间就决定要在家里照顾他。他想待在这里。我们16岁的双胞胎儿子非常希望他待在这里。我也是,虽说这是我们在25年的婚姻里第一次住在一起。我们一直都有各自独立的住处。
        A week earlier we had learned that John had three separate forms of cancer: pancreatic, liver and prostate. A “cancer overachiever,” as I told him. I can’t remember the Yiddish phrase his doctor used to describe the usefulness of chemo or radiation, but it roughly translated to “pissing in the wind.” Solid, barrel-chested, bearded and floppy-haired, John had always looked like a Bugs Bunny cartoon version of the opera singer he was. I adored his looks. Now he was a skeleton.        一周前,我们得知约翰患有三种不同的癌症:胰腺癌、肝癌和前列腺癌。正如我告诉他的,简直是“癌症高材生”。我没记住他的医生用来形容化疗或放疗效果的那个意第绪短语,但大致可以翻译成“尿液在风中飘”。约翰身强力壮、胸膛宽阔、留络腮胡子、头发蓬松,他是个歌剧歌手,不过看起来一直都像是兔八哥(Bugs Bunny)卡通版的歌剧歌手。我喜欢他的外表。现在他已经是一具骷髅。
        John spoke with difficulty as he held my hand. “So, there’s something I have to tell you,” he said. “I made a certain promise to Amy.”        约翰握着我的手,说起话来很吃力。“所以,我有事要告诉你,”他说。“我对艾米(Amy)做过一个承诺。”
        Amy was his former wife. She had died of breast cancer about 30 years ago, before John and I met.        艾米是他的前妻,30年前死于乳腺癌,那时我和约翰还没认识。
        “I promised her,” he said, “that we would be buried together.”        “我答应了她,”他说,“我们要葬在一起。”
        Oh.        噢。
        It turns out that when John said he had kept Amy close, he hadn’t been speaking metaphorically; she was in his closet at his studio apartment. Could I fetch her? Also, could I find her passport and death certificate? I would need them to carry out his plan.        约翰曾说艾米一直在他身边,结果事实证明,这话不是什么比喻;她就在他单间公寓的柜子里。我能把她接过来吗?另外,我能找到她的护照和死亡证明吗?要执行他的计划,我就需要这些东西。
        There was a field in Northern England where John had played as a child. He wanted to be buried there. With Amy. But not scattered. The field still existed, but the area was no longer so rural, and John didn’t want to end up blanketing a local parking lot.        英格兰北部有一片田野,约翰小时候曾在那里玩耍。他想被葬在那里。和艾米一起。但不是把骨灰洒在那儿。那片田野还在,但那个地方已经不完全是农村了,约翰不希望自己的骨灰到头来全都洒在当地的停车场。
        So I was to take his box of ashes and Amy’s, get a shovel and probably a flashlight, because this was illegal so we’d need to do it at night, the funereal equivalent of a dine-and-dash. Joining me would be John’s 90-year-old sister and his nephew, along with our sons, Henry and Gus, who were currently far more focused on the adventure of the illicit burial than on what it all meant.        所以我得带上他和艾米的骨灰盒,拿上一把铲子,可能还有一个手电筒——因为这样做是非法的,所以我们得在晚上干这件事,有点像葬礼版的吃完霸王餐赶快跑。约翰90岁的姐姐和他的外甥也会和我同去,还有我们的儿子亨利(Henry)和加斯(Gus),目前他们更关心这场非法葬礼历险本身,而不是它意味着什么。
        “I’d always been sure you’d go first,” John added, sadly.        “我本来一直都相信你会先走一步,”约翰悲伤地补充说。
        The fact that I am 30 years younger had in no way deterred him from this thought. John seemed the grumpiest of men, but in key ways he was an optimist.        我比他年轻30岁这一事实并没有阻止他产生这种想法。约翰看上去似乎是个脾气最糟的男人,但在某些关键方面,他是乐观主义者。
        “And of course I would have followed your instructions for your own burial,” he said. “I would have cremated you and placed you in the mausoleum with your parents. I know you wanted nothing more.”        “当然,我会按照你的指示安排你的葬礼,”他说。“我会火化你,把你和你父母一起安葬在陵园里。我知道你别无他求。”
        This didn’t seem the time to point out that for at least 10 years I had been telling him that I loathed the mausoleum, that I had arranged for my body to be donated to a medical school, and that I had put aside money for a big party afterward.        现在似乎已经没有时间指出,至少10年来,我一直告诉他,我厌恶陵园,我已安排好,把我的遗体捐赠给医学院,而且还留出钱来举办一个事后的盛大派对。
        John never listened. That, combined with his almost comical frugality (I already had been warned I would need to find the cheapest cremation place in New York) had often threatened to sink our marriage. But I guess I could save that conversation to have with myself, late at night. Plenty of time for that. Not much time for anything else.        约翰从不好好听我说话。这一点,再加上他那近乎滑稽可笑的节俭(我已经被警告过,我得在纽约找个最便宜的火化场),经常威胁到我们的婚姻。但我想我可以等到夜深人静时再来和自己进行这种对话。还有很多时间可以那样做。眼前没有太多时间去做其他事情了。
        We talked and talked. “I was a good husband, wasn’t I?” he said. “At least I didn’t chase after girls.” (No, I thought a little churlishly. Because then you would have had to pay for them.) “You were wonderful,” I said. Both thoughts were true.        我们聊了很多。“我是个好丈夫,不是吗?”他说。“至少我没有去追别的女孩子。”(不,我有点小肚鸡肠地想。要是追别的女孩,到时你还得给她们买单。)“你很棒,”我说。这两种想法都是真实的。
        He wanted to make sure I understood his plan. But about 30 minutes into this conversation, he suddenly looked sheepish, as if it had just occurred to him that his wife of 25 years may not actually be on board to carry out this promise he had made to his former wife more than three decades earlier.        他想确保我理解他的计划。但是这次对话进行到大约30分钟的时候,他突然看起来很难为情,好像刚刚才突然想到,和他结婚25年的妻子可能不会真的舟车劳顿,去履行他在30多年前对前妻所作的承诺。
        “You don’t have to do this right away,” he said. “In fact, you could wait until you go, and then have the boys take all three of us. That would be fine too.”        “你不用马上做这件事,”他说。“其实,你可以等到你去世后,让儿子们把我们三个埋在一起。那也很好。”
        “Um,” I said.        “嗯,”我说。
        Amy was Midwestern, blond, aristocratic and gracious, an accomplished equestrian and mezzo-soprano 17 years older than John. Before she got sick, they had worked their way across Europe, singing at all the big opera houses. She was everything I am not.        艾米是中西部人,金发,高贵优雅,比约翰年长17岁,是一位颇有成就的马术师和女中音。在她生病之前,他们一直在欧洲各地工作,在所有大歌剧院唱歌。她和我可谓截然不同。
        John and I used to joke that the only thing he and I had in common was a mutual antipathy for fish. Amy and John shared everything. He loved us both, and he made a family with me. But I never kid myself.        约翰和我曾经开玩笑说,我俩唯一的共同点就是都讨厌鱼。但艾米却能和他分享一切。我们两个他都爱,他和我一起组建了家庭。但我从不自欺欺人。
        I explained the situation to my friend Hilary over lunch, including the part where I could hold off on the burial until my own demise. “I really don’t want to be their ashy third wheel,” I groused.        吃午饭时,我向朋友希拉莉(Hilary)解释了我的处境,包括我可以把葬礼推迟到我死后这件事。“我真不想当他俩的骨灰电灯泡,”我抱怨说。
        “Here’s what you do,” Hilary said. “You put Amy in some sort of suspicious container — something metal that the T.S.A. people can’t see through in the screening. Amy looks like a bomb. Oops! The T.S.A. will just have to keep her. Oh well! You tried.”        “你就这么干,”希拉莉说。“你把艾米放在什么可疑的容器里——金属容器,美国运输安全署的人扫描不出是什么东西。艾米看上去像个炸弹。哎呦!运输安全署会把她扣下来。好吧!你已经尽力了。”
        I could have explained instead of laughing, I suppose. But it’s hard, without sounding saccharine. One of the things I loved about my husband was that he kept his promises — even stupid ones that made no difference to anyone but himself. You wanted a light bulb changed? It was going to be changed, exactly at the time he said, and it would be with the 60-watt bulb, not the 100, because … who the hell knows, he had his reasons.
        This punctiliousness and attention to detail meant he didn’t make promises freely, and he said “No” to life far more often than he said “Yes.” But also, this reliability was at the center of his John-ness. He lived small. But he loved deep.        这种一丝不苟和对细节的关注意味着他不会随意承诺什么,他对生活说“不”比说“是”的时候多。但是,这样的忠诚可靠是约翰性格的核心。他活得平凡。但他爱得深沉。

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