The Slightest Trace of Normal

Dearest Rachel –

You know, of course, that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ anymore, if there really ever was. ‘Normal,’ to us, are the days of the three of us, going about our ways, serene in the unfounded knowledge that life was good and every day would be pleasant together, much like the day before and we could expect the day to come to be.

Those days are over.

Instead of whole, ‘normal’ days, we are having to satisfy ourselves with moments of ‘normal,’ moments like those we remember from those halcyon days not so long ago that “we thought would number in the millions,” like Mark Heard once put it.

(By the way, I looked that up. Boy, was that an unrealistic expectation. I knew a million days might add up, but three thousand years?)

And even those moments are few and far between at present. But they aren’t completely nonexistent.

Yesterday, for instance, after talking with Daniel about his distant mood from the previous night, I offered to go out and get breakfast for the two of us. To be sure, his habit from before was a couple of breakfast burritos and a smoothie from McDonald’s, but as we hadn’t done much fast food at all since the accident four weeks ago (which sometimes feels like forever, and at others, just as fresh in our minds as the day it happened), it’s one of those little traces of normal that are slowly seeping back into our lives.

Of course, later on, I found a big bag in front of the front hall closet, and realized this must be what you used to store our Christmas tree. So I took it apart, stuffed the branches in the bag, and took the bag down to the entrance of the crawl space, which for now is as far as I can go with it. Not really normal at all, unless you count the fact that there isn’t usually a Christmas tree up in the house.

So, as with every other thing in this new phase of our lives, it’s up and down from moment to moment. It’s really all we can do.

There are also activities that I am starting to accustom myself to as part of what might well be considered “the new normal,” a phrase popularized in this Covid era that I absolutely despise, but cannot but admit to being poignantly accurate, though for reasons utterly unrelated to that dread disease.

This includes the every-other-day ritual of preparing Chompers’ MREs: using old, clean Beneful boxes, place a quarter cup of kibble, three heaping baby spoonfuls of the current wet food, and fill to the brim, more or less, with some cooked green vegetable, be it broccoli, green beans or – his favorite, I understood from you – brussels sprouts. Those we would get for about a dollar a bag at Aldi, microwave and cool, and set any excess in a separate box, which I identify as you did with a green lid.

I don’t have any color-coding method applied to the prepared MREs, however. They’re just not green, is all.

Of course, just saying things are “normal” doesn’t make them so. Chompers refused to take his pain medication last night, grabbing the proffered treat that accompanied it but working around the capsule. Maybe he’s cleverer than I give him credit for.

Or not. I think in part due to the lack of pain meds, he woke up at around 5 or 5:30, and while he snuck over to his water dish at the edge of the bedroom for a drink in an effort to not wake me up for a change (a wasted effort, as – for whatever reason – I had been half-awake since about 3:30, and his jingling tags were not exactly quiet, either), he promptly found himself unable to turn back around, and began whining. Daniel actually came in to help soothe him as best he could, but there was no getting back to sleep at that point.

Who needs an alarm clock, anyway, when you have an old dog?

Another little touch of normal – stopping for breakfast en route to church. not to mention going to church in the first place.

You know, when we showed up at church the day after the accident, everybody there was completely shocked. How was it that, after something as awful as what happened the night before (coupled with interviews with the organ bank about your health, travel and sexual history until after 2:30am), were Daniel and I in church, doing the best we could to sing praises to God?

Yes, I will lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes, I will bless Your name
Yes, I will sing for joy when my heart is heavy
For all my days, yes, I will

Vertical Worship, “Yes I Will”

Well, the fact that we couldn’t get any sleep was most of why we showed up at the earliest service (at 8:30 am) – not to mention the fact that we would probably not have to physically deal with as many people then. But why we were there at all? Honestly, the thing is, if we couldn’t sing to God at that moment (or at this moment – the ache of your loss does not go away overnight, or even over a month so far), then we never meant those words at all, and just. shouldn’t. bother.

Ever.

So we were there then, we were here now, and we will continue to be there going forward. Because we need it. Because it’s just one more slight trace of normal in our lives. Because this is where our hope that we will see you again rests.

Although I have made a habit of, at the end of my prayers, to ask Him to greet you for us. I hope He’s passed those greetings on to you. Because it makes it hard to finish praying once I try to place this request.

I know you knew I loved you while you were here on earth; I just hope you can remember us in the midst of all that’s new and glorious around you.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

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

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