Rules for Responses

Dearest Rachel –

You must have noticed that I’ve probably written more in the last month and a half than I ever have in my life, and that’s counting our high school and college days when essays were still a requirement in so many classes. And not just in these letters to you; I’ve had to (well, felt the need to) contact a number of more distant friends and relatives with the word of your passing, because it seemed to me that they ought to know about it. Sometimes, in the process, I’ve felt like I’ve had to bring them up to speed with just about everything that’s gone on for the past five years (because it’s been that long – or longer! – since we’ve been in touch) before lowering the boom and hitting them with the plot twist that, just when everything seems to be coming together for us as a family, BAM! You’re gone.

Yes, it’s a gut punch. It is how it is.

But even now, as I try to keep up on these missives about missing you, life goes on. Business has to be conducted (especially as tax season looms). And the pleasantries of social etiquette need to be adhered to, even if you don’t know the rules. Which means all that much more writing.

I’m talking about thank you cards for people that attended your memorial service. Or those sending well wishes our way, or contributed to the camp as per our request (in lieu of flowers, as you rarely seemed to appreciate them). And of course, I really have no idea what I’m doing.

Apparently, it’s not necessary to thank everyone who came out, or everyone who sent a card. Honestly, I think we would have benefited from knowing these guidelines thirty years ago. I think we were trying to send personalized messages to everyone, and got way too overwhelmed… and somewhere along the way, we never finished sending out thank-yous from our wedding.

Ellen tells me this was the way you were, even back in the day. You set high standards for you to accomplish, bordering on unrealistic – and when they turned out to be unrealistic, well, I guess you kind of gave up, or at least decided to do it later… and later never came.

In a way, it’s not that different from the piles in the kitchen, and the garage, and the utility room, and the basement – all of which are virtually cleaned out – and the sunroom, and the dining room, and the bedroom, and the upstairs – which we haven’t.

Give us a year, though, and we’ll probably be able to remodel the place.

And if what I hear from Dad’s friends from his business days, we’ll need that year. Thanks to Covid, everything really is backlogged that far down the line.

Anyway, here’s what I understand to be the standard practice for sending out thank-you letters. I hope if anyone is reading this and knows differently, that they would let me know if I’ve misunderstood how things are done:

  • Send a thank you note to those who came an unusual distance to the funeral. For example, we were stunned that Sara Lee and her husband Richard came up from the Alton area to pay their respects. By contrast, those that attend church regularly would not require a thank you, unless…
  • Send a thank you note to those that contributed something, either to Camp Awana as requested (and I hope I wasn’t out of line to do that, but I know you were never much for floral arrangements) or to Daniel and myself (although if we received cash or checks, we turned those over to camp as well).
  • Those that don’t fall into either of the above categories can be thanked at our discretion, but again, since we tried to thank everyone from our wedding, that didn’t work out so well. So I need to keep the list short and simple for now, or else it will never get done.

Indeed, I had hoped to go over this some two or three weeks ago, but then everything came up with the house cleaning process and my medical procedure, and assembling documentation for income taxes, probate, and my own estate plans, and… well, life just keeps happening while you try to make all these plans. It’s not the life I would have chosen.

Of course, there isn’t a whole lot about our current situation that I would have chosen, to be honest.

But it’s not a question of choosing anymore. What has happened has happened, and I’ll need to just… do what has to be done. So, I’m going to let this missive go for now, and get on with working on the responses to all those who deserve my thanks, before I lose track and forget to do it entirely all over again.

You keep enjoying yourself up there, honey. I’ll keep in touch as the days go by.

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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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