The Twenty-Third

Dearest Rachel –

So this is it. The twenty-third of February.

It’s been exactly one month since the accident. One month since you left us.

I wonder how long it will be before I stop thinking in terms of the passage of time. How many Saturdays will pass before I stop thinking, “well, it’s been X weeks since the accident,” how many twenty-thirds before I stop marking the months? The day we used to jokingly refer to as Christmas Adam (because Adam came before Eve, don’tcha know) is going to be forever tinged with the stigma of being the 23rd of the month, the day you passed on. Is this particular sting going to last the rest of my life?

But how am I commemorating this one-month anniversary, anyway? By practically gutting the kitchen.

I keep telling myself that it needs to be done. You remember; you’ve seen the photos. We could hardly walk around in there, much less cook. Ellen spent the better part of two hours on Friday on just the refrigerator – and all she got out of it was a bowl of soup.

But I know that everything that gets put into those black plastic garbage bags is simply going to become just that – garbage. Nothing’s going to be recycled, nothing is going to be reused. All those pieces of aluminum foil you intended to wash, the ziplock bags you planned to rinse out, dozens and dozens of Chompers’ Beneful boxes you were going to use for storage of his stuff – to say nothing of the already cleaned out plastic containers of this, that and the other that have covered our kitchen table for over a decade. We’ve no room in the fridge for all these even if we were to fill them with leftovers – and we wouldn’t get around to those leftovers in time in any even.

Come to think of it, we’re still sitting on Ako’s Japanese beef stew. And we’ve had to dispose of one of the packets of rice due to it getting certain suspect spots inside it. And that’s something we received since the accident – imagine what’s happened to older stuff.

So again, this is something necessary. I know it.

But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. I know you would disapprove of what we’re doing, and each of those things we through out that I know you would have had us keep tears a little piece of my soul.

And it’s so damaged already.

Thankfully, while Jan does indeed work fast, she was nowhere near as brutal as I feared she might be. Oh sure, there were things that she’d hold up to me, “Honey, you can’t keep this. Look at how yellowed this is,” or “look at how this has separated,” or “look at the date on these things.” And yes, there was stuff on the floor dating back to 2017 and 2015. I know you would see the good in those things – “those dates are just arbitrary, to convince people to throw them out before they ought to” – and I kind of agree, but after four to six years…?

To be honest, those worst offenders aren’t ours. I still have no clue where all those hot pepper sauces came from for instance. I think you took a lot of stuff off of other people’s hands, only to find we wouldn’t get around to using them either, and then we had twice the stuff other people would.

You enabled people to do this to you, and I enabled you to keep letting this happen.

And Jan just… put her foot down, and cleared it out.

The floor is clear (not clean, mind you, although I did sweep it – cleaning will be a much more intense process, and the folks have given me recommendations of someone who does this professionally as well), as is most of the counter and even the stove. We can actually use the kitchen, both for cooking and for eating (yes, the table is – mostly – clear as well, barring a few appliances).

The pantry still needs work, and so she’ll be back on Thursday afternoon and all of Friday (and on Friday, she’s bringing Scott with her, as she insists she’ll need a little extra muscle for that day). Once everything’s cleaned out, I’ll probably take a few more pictures so you can see the difference. Trust me, it’s a bigger change than what you did in 2008.

At least, for this room. There’s still a long way to go.

Maybe from your perspective in heaven you’re more cognizant of the fact that ‘it’s all junk.’ Nothing earthly is permanent, and there’s nothing here that we should cling to with our lives (as if we could). I hope so, and with that in mind, I hope you’ll forgive me for what’s been done – to say nothing of what remains to be done.

I can even appreciate the improvements being made.

I just wish that it didn’t come at such a price.

And I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot over the next few days… weeks… months… years?

I’ll keep you posted, honey. I love you.

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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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