Launch Day

Dearest Rachel –

I’m starting to get the hang of dealing with Chompers, I think: get your rest when he does, or you won’t get much rest at all at night. I dozed off between 9 and 9:30, and after waking just before midnight, taking him out to pee, and settling him down in the bedroom for the night…

…he burst into whining fourteen times throughout the next two hours, resulting in my giving him water four times (and taking him out onto the cold and slightly snowy driveway another four of those times), and six attempts at repositioning him between his bed, his floof, and his heating pad. He finally stopped a little after two a.m.

At least, when we went out, he didn’t huddle under the car this time.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that story? Yeah, Sunday night, after the ‘snow angels’ plowed our driveway for us, I had him out late. I don’t remember how late, other than that it was well after midnight. That was fairly reasonable in your book, I know, but it’s late in mine. As you know, he crouches and shuffles forward when he does his business – and heaven help me, I had to run back inside for a bag to pick it up – so, by the time I was back outside, he was basically planted under the car, just inside the rear tire on the passenger’s side. I had parked too close to the edge for me to wade over in my robe to get him out. I tried nudging him with the snow shovel, to no avail. I was considering, against my better judgement, to start the car and roll it off of him (a supremely bad idea, I know, if he were to move at all while I was doing this), but Daniel, bless him, was still awake and dressed – yes, you trained him well in the fine art of staying up late – and waded into the snowpack, reached under the car, and (eventually) pulled Chompers out.

Honestly, honey, I have no idea how you did this.

But I wasn’t writing to tell you about Chompers. After all, you’ll probably be getting regular updates about him until he joins you, since he is the source of most of our misadventures at home these days.

No, today is the day I’m uploading the service. I really would hope you’d like what I’ve done.

I’ll start out by letting you know that I really had no idea what I was doing. Danny Martinez, who handles media for the church, told me he used Premiere to assemble the online services, as opposed to AfterEffects, like I had used for that one video I’d made back in late 2019 (I would say last year, but we’re already a month into 2021 after all – not like it’s been an improvement, to be honest). I’d never touched Premiere before, but of course, there are always so many tutorials out there that it wasn’t such a difficult thing to put together. Even adding slides and subtitles during the service was fairly easy.

The trick was coming up with pictures of you that fit the music. Your childhood pictures, I set to an instrumental, so it wasn’t nearly as much trouble. But talking about Days Like This, that was a lot harder.

Not that we didn’t have a whole “wealth of days like this,” but we just never took pictures of our mundane, everyday, ordinary life. Pictures were for events and special occasions – which included the times we went to see andi and i at the Mennonite church every year when they would make their annual sojourn to the suburbs. They were for vacations (and I probably shorted you on the Middle Bass Island photos in favor of the cruises we took with the family – yeah, even our vacations were a little too mundane, compared to the once-every-couple-of-years splash-out we’d do together with the folks and my sister’s family), not for hanging around the house, going out to eat at any of the local joints (although had we known what was gonna happen in 2020, we’d probably have taken more pictures of those, too), or anything we would do on a day-to-day basis. After all, we’d have so many more days like this, wouldn’t we?

Wouldn’t we?

I did what I could, honey, and I hope you’d think I did you at least some justice.

I even added a separate video of you as you were skating on Lake Twelve about an hour before…

…before everything changed.

You were even asking me, right at the end of the clip: “Are you filming, or are you just taking pictures?” and when I responded with an affirmation, your reaction was rather one of dismay. You weren’t exactly shy in front of the camera – not compared to some of our friends, that’s for sure – but you knew you weren’t your best in this shot. To be fair, the camera was rarely friends with either of us – or for Daniel, for that matter.

But I am glad that I thought to take that clip. I just wish it wasn’t for the reason it was.

While I was wrapping the assembly up yesterday, Daniel came to the office. Actually, he was brought here, as the folks wanted us over for dinner. They used to do that at least once whenever you took a week to visit your parents during their twilight years, and I suppose it’s going to continue, now that you’re gone. I was thoroughly apologetic, as I was concentrating on the subtitles for each of the hymns in their turn – so I couldn’t pay that much attention to him, and I figured he’d find the technical aspects rather boring if he wasn’t the one working on them.

He suddenly asked me, “How many other widowers have done something like this for their wives? Do you think you’re the first?”

Well, I don’t know. Probably not – it’s certainly a way to just keep working, and keep my mind off of my grief even as I’m immersed in all things you all day. So I imagine that someone else has done this before.

Heck, I’ve heard stories about grieving husbands using their loss to promote themselves. I can’t seem to find the specific reference, but I’ve heard of one sculptor who actually advertised himself on his wife’s tombstone – “in tribute to her, and an example of his work,” it supposedly read, concluding with “Similar monuments available for 300 dollars.”

I confess that it seems crass to do something like this, and yet, here I am, promoting a channel and blog with this video. At least, by including some of what we would consider “our” songs, I’m not going to make any money off of this. As Sam Goldwyn once said about on of his movies: “I don’t care if it makes a nickel. I just want every man, woman and child in America to see it.

And I really would like this to go viral. I wish more people had known you when you were around, though. It seems particularly poignant that you should only be widely known after you’re dead.

But of course, you never set out to be known. You did so many of your good deeds in the background, where you weren’t seen by anyone except the one person who needed – and received – your help. You had no desire to be committed to film or video, even to the very last. So while I had footage to choose from, it wasn’t a vast library, like those whose ranks I once considered trying to join.

More’s the pity.

Good night, honey. I’ll talk to you later.

All my love.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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