Infinitely Finite

By Emma Pearson

October 26, 2020

28th February 2019

Image courtesy of Sarah Treanor (streanor.com)

Writing Prompt from Megan Devine (refugeingrief.com and It’s OK that you’re not OK)

One more John Green passage this week. He really does get grief and love. The Fault in Our Stars came out a few years after Matt died. I hated most books back then, mostly because they portrayed grief in such a completely bogus way. But not this one. My copy is highlighted and underlined, with corners of many pages turned down. This week, one of my favorite passages.

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” (John Green, The Fault in Our Stars)

I wanted more time. I wanted more time for us, and more time for him. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. I carried the line, “how thankful I am for our little infinity,” around with me for a long time. If you start your writing from that line this week, writers, where does it take you? As always, take any line above for your starting place.

Today is one of my better days

A day when I can hold Both and And

In the same day, hour, minute, breath

When I can be Grateful and Sad

Allowing both

Not just Sad

Not just Grateful

But both Both and And

Which means I cannot choose which prompt to write from. Some days in these most recent 7 days, I would have known to choose the first prompt.

I wanted more time – I wanted more time for us, and more time for him.

Of course I wanted more time! Much more time. I wanted more time for us, for Mike, for me, for Ben, for Megan, for Julia, for his sisters, for his nephews and nieces, for my parents, for my siblings, for his friends, for his colleagues.

I wanted MUCH more time. We all wanted more time.

I still want more time.

I still can’t believe he’s not coming back.

I still don’t get it.

How do these things happen? How does someone as good, as strong, as beautiful, loving, capable, wise, healthy, fit, gorgeous, funny, talented, someone so very vital to my universe just disappear and the world doesn’t even bat an eyelid?

My stomach still clenches and jolts, gets stuck, my breath solidifies in my solar plexus, forgetting if it was going in or going out. Only a good talking to gets it unstuck. By then my eyes have become set, fixed in surprise, stunned astonishment, wide-eyed disbelief.  My mouth and lips drop, jaw clenches.

If only we’d had more time.

Eliza’s song at the end of Hamilton, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?” makes me weep hot tears – for our unfinished story, our unfinished business, the gaping loss of a non-completely lived life.

“I ask myself what you would do if you had more time…

…You could have done so much more if you’d only had time…

…I can’t wait to see you again

It’s only a matter of time”.

We had finite time in a world that carries on into the infinite.

Time is infinite

and our time was finite

Very finite

Finite in the infinite


Both And

And other days, even just in this past week, I would have known to choose the second line.

“How thankful I am for our little infinity”.

I am so grateful, so thankful for our little infinity. We still had almost 30 years.

That’s a lot of months, days, hours, minutes, seconds, kisses, tickles, hugs, smiles, showers, baths, runs, mountains, holidays, meals, conversations. Yes, and body fluid exchanges.

I would never trade a moment of our time together. Never make a different choice.

Je ne regrette rien.

We had a sort of infinity.

We have a sort of infinity.

I know that there is something carrying on.

Memories, love, dreams, expressions, phrases.

Images in my mind, sensations in my heart and body.

(Though woe betide anyone who says Mike is all around me/goes on forever. It’s not that I don’t want to believe you; It’s not even that I don’t believe you. It’s just not your place to say it).

We should have had more time. I would have liked more time.

And we didn’t.

I liked the time we had.

I loved the time we had.

And we didn’t have enough. 

I don’t like it.

Not one bit.

And I am still glad.

Both And.

About Emma Pearson

2 thoughts on “Infinitely Finite

  1. Emma…your writing is like a punch in the gut and a caress to the heart. You write with the fibers of your very being, using the bottomless well of love for Mike as ink. Your love and pain, such complicated and awkward dance partners, are abundant in your writing.

    I still want more time.
    I still can’t believe he’s not coming back.
    I still don’t get it.

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