When you are dead, you either change completely, or you do not change at all. This is something R learns after most of the zombies are not nearly so zombie-ish anymore, and he has regained most of his vocabulary. Or, he thinks he has. No one knows what he spoke like before.
A lot of records are missing. Many people cannot find out who they were before the apocalypse. There are many, many missing persons lists. They are long, so long, and R sees new names written down every day as someone remembers, "I had a son," or, "My grandfather might still be alive if he was a zombie," or, "My wife might have been one of them, she might have, really!"
There is an obsession. So many people died during the apocalypse, but survivors are choosing to believe that their loved ones were not eaten, but simply one of the risen. Simply a zombie. It's an odd sentence. Simply a zombie. And, of course, no one wants to think that their sweet old grandfather or dear wife became a Boney. No one dares to think that.
But the point is that people are finding themselves again. People like Marcus, whose subconscious memory gives him dreams that lead him to the apartment he lived in before the apocalypse. Where he found photographs of himself and of his family. Where he found a wallet with a driver's license.
Marcus was forty-two when the apocalypse began. It began a very long time ago. Marcus is still forty-two.
When you are bitten, when you die, you freeze. If you do not become a Boney, then you do not become anything at all. You do not change. You do not age. Immortality in death.
R thinks about this as he observes himself in the mirror (without the makeup this time). He has not begun to age again yet (it has been less than a year; he'll give himself another six months before he starts to worry), just as Marcus has not. He cannot remember his life or his name, but like Marcus, he sometimes dreams. In his dreams, he sometimes sees himself in flashes of a mirror or a camera, and he knows something.
The apocalypse was long. Just over a decade. He was bitten at the beginning of it. He was frozen during all of it.
Julie was eleven when the apocalypse began. She is twenty-two now. The apocalypse lasted exactly half her life, splitting the whole of her timeline into before and after.
R was not eleven. R was exactly then what he is now.
R does the research. R follows his dreams.
R discovers a past life. He does not care about his name (he was right about the first letter, though), and he doesn't care if he was rich or poor. He'll think about that might-be-living-might-not-be family later, and he'll check for his own inconsequential name on the missing persons lists later.
R discovers his age.
He was twenty-six. Julie was eleven. There is a fifteen-year difference between them.
Julie is twenty-two. He is thirty-seven. He does not look thirty-seven, although he occasionally feels it.
He'll mention this to Julie later. After he figures out how to live with the fact that he might never have looked at Julie twice is it weren't for becoming a zombie. Before he looks for his family.
He owes his life to death, it seems.