Kitchen Nightmare

Dearest Rachel –

There’s a part of me that tells me I should be proud of the work that’s been done, and how well I have held up during the process.

The folks say I’m doing the right thing. Jan and Scott have expressed their approval as to how well I’ve held up as we have completely filled a 20 cubic yard dumpster with unnecessary possessions. Even Logan acknowledged being impressed by the change.

But Daniel is upset.

And once again, it breaks my heart. Am I really doing the right thing? Can we really move forward from here?

He’s basically said he wants nothing to do with the kitchen as it has been converted. And I do get it: I’ve told you about how its newfound physical emptiness reflects the emptiness in both of our hearts, souls and spirits with your absence. And it’s a gross understatement to say we don’t like it. So, yes, making more changes to amplify this sense of loss is – in a certain way – only making things worse.

And the way he sees it, the friends we have – Ellen, Erin, Logan, and so forth – are familiar with the mess that is our home, and accept it, just as they accept us as we are. It’s not the mess that’s keeping them away (in comparison to the longer past), it’s Covid. So if it hurts to change, and those we care about aren’t concerned with whether we change or not, why go through all of this additional agony for nothing?

But the thing is, with you gone, we need that many more people to come alongside us for support. I’m not saying this to ask for sympathy – I think it’s a simple matter of fact. This house is emptier because we are down to two people in it; we need more people here more often to make up for this sudden and drastic lack. Most people wouldn’t be able to deal with joining us in a place like this. You remember the days when we used to host the singles group when we lived at the condo, or in our early years at this house. We haven’t been able to do that for so long, and it’s not for lack of being asked. We knew this house wasn’t suitable for the average visitor; we didn’t have to be told

And while the dear friends we have tolerate our faults for our sake, it’s not like they don’t notice and appreciate the changes already.

Daniel could just ask Logan.

But change is a difficult thing to deal with, especially when you’re on the spectrum. And even if you’re not (I sometimes wonder about each of us, darling – we were never diagnosed, and indeed, most of the spectrum levels weren’t even medically acknowledged when we were young. We were just ‘quirky,’ in our own ways, and I think we passed both our measures on to Daniel), again, the change is painful. Daniel even expressed that he wants to keep the pile of clothes and other stuff that form a ring about four feet wide around his favorite rocking chair in the family room as sort of a barrier, a bulwark against this swiftly encroaching change.

And I want to respect his boundaries, but the change really needs to be total at some point. I’ve observed (complained?) how both the living room and sunroom both have the same carpet and paint job as they did when we first moved in, twenty-five years ago. And who knows how long it had been that way before? We simply moved in, settled in, and that was it – we lived with what we had. And in fairness, I don’t know that I would necessarily prefer a different color or texture to the place (although some bits of the ceiling absolutely need touching up, or outright repair), but these rooms – and let’s face it, the entire house – is showing its age. Everything needs to be upgraded at some point, or it will all fall apart around us.

But in order to do that, everything needs to be cleared out, room by room. A room has to be completely empty in order for the painters, the carpetlayers, and/or the contractors to get in and do their work (and in the case of the sunroom-dining room-family room, all three need to be cleared concurrently, as they’re all essentially a single large angular room). Nothing can be done until everything is done, if that makes any sense.

The funny thing is, I’ve heard this analogy used in books and sermons regarding our hearts and minds, with regard to letting God and His Holy Spirit move in and truly take residence. He’s often depicted as needing to do a complete overhaul of the place before He can settle in, call our hearts “home,” and do the work He needs to do in us.

I guess I never realized how fitting that analogy was until we found ourselves here, trying to physically overhaul this place – and discovering just how difficult it is to let go of all that we’re not ready to give up.

But we could be so much better off for it.

Not completely, of course – you’re still gone, and I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again that I would live in this mess for the rest of my days if you could only be here with me and Daniel (and I’m absolutely certain I speak for him on this point). I truly think I would be better off if you were still here by my side.

But you aren’t. And I have to believe there’s a reason for that, and move forward.

But even as we do, however fitfully and hesitantly, may your spirit be with us as His spirit is.

I’ll talk to you later, honey. Until then.

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

2 thoughts on “Kitchen Nightmare

  1. Having read the last couple of posts… maybe this is okay, maybe this isn’t, but here goes.

    All of us leave a mark on the world. Sometimes that mark is physical; the mess, for instance. A house is a mark on the world. Sometimes those marks are spiritual. I’ve been amazed at times at how acts years or even decades old will leave impressions long after those acts have passed. Both types of marks, of course, can be positive or negative.

    Which mark is most important? Which mark most says “Rachel”? (Here’s a hint: it’s not the mess.)


    1. Oh, I agree… but the mess is hard to let go of, more (I think) for him than myself, but still. Possessions don’t make a person, but they link to the memories that do in another’s mind, and to get rid of them is to cut away those memories – or at least, threaten them. It may be irrational to think this way about them, but we are in fact irrational beings, are we not?


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