When I Grow Up

Dearest Rachel –

There was some confusion on Monday about whether Awana (and particularly, Sparks) was to be held that night. Our paper copy of the schedule had the 22nd as a day off, presumably due to Spring Break – granted, I was also assuming we’d be holding club every single week by now, so it wasn’t exactly to be trusted. But evidently, the church website had also listed club as being off that night as well. Judging by my mentioning all this, this was not the case. In any event, the interested parents were contacted (it’s a fairly small group at the moment, since we’re still following Covid protocols), and things went off without any particular hitch.

The theme for the night was “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.” Remember how much you got into those themes from week to week? You were the reminder girl, too, dressing up for the current theme, and then changing into something from next week’s theme to show the kids how it was to be done for next time. Were you still here, of course, I know you would have dressed up like a little kid, too, because that’s what you always wanted to be.

So, in the spirit of things, I decided to dress up a little, too. It’s subtle…

See anything different?

You would actually notice this, honey, but for the benefit of those who might come across this later on, I haven’t been wearing that ring for… oh, about a year or so now. Not because I was unhappy in our marriage, not at all. Just the opposite, in fact – I was too happy.

Specifically, fat and happy.

I mean, we ate out (or at least, picked up carryout) almost every day or night for the past year or so. We could afford it, and in this day and age of Covid, we kind of regarded it as our civic duty, one we performed with great enthusiasm. So sure, we only ate maybe two meals a day, but they were substantial meals. And they worked their will on me, to the point that when I had my physical just before Thanksgiving, I tipped the scales (or would it be a matter of overturning them at this point?) at about 280 pounds, some thirty pounds more than I ever recall having been. And it was no fluke, either – again, you’ll recall that I went for my second shingles booster early in January, and while I had actually lost weight over the holidays(!), it was only a mere six pounds. So my doctor instructed me to arrange sessions with a nutritionist, for the sake of adjusting my diet, and get a stress test, in preparation for putting me on an exercise regimen.

However reluctantly, I scheduled them… for what turned out to be the week after the accident. I cancelled them – leaving only the colonoscopy as the one medical appointment I would end up keeping.

Anyway, the point is, the ring hadn’t fit me for about a year or so.

But here’s where things get weird – or maybe, since you recall more than one other time of stress and misery you saw me through, this just stands to reason. When I went in for the colonoscopy, they had to weigh me, in order to calibrate the necessary amount of anesthesia (among other things). Lo and behold, I was suddenly back to just over 250 pounds again.

In less than a month and a half, I had dropped at least 25 pounds, thanks to the patented Stress and Misery Diet™. And even still, I’m as likely as not to only eat a single meal in a given day – to say nothing of all those bags of junk I’m hauling into dumpsters and off to Goodwill or wherever.

So now… the ring fits me again.

Only… I’m not married anymore, am I?

And yet… I want to be. If I could find someone like you…

I’m sure that’s like asking lightning to strike me twice at this point. Last week, I was out to lunch with Lars, and he flat out told me that finding someone like you was like winning the lottery. And he would know, as he has plenty of patients who tell him about their lousy home lives, and how they’d drop their spouse in a minute once their kids were old enough and able to deal with it. A good marriage apparently is like striking it rich.

Which is a shame. It shouldn’t be such a rare thing, should it? I mean, this was how the Almighty ordained life to be: “It is not good that man should be alone.”

And I’ll tell you, honey, things are not good with me.

At the same time, it’s not just Lars. Pastor Scott has also advised me not to jump into anything hastily, or even to broadcast that I’m ‘on the market.’ He tells me he’s concerned for my reputation – desperation is not a turn-on in a woman’s eyes. And I get that – I remember some of my dorm mates and their attempts at hooking up with girls. Some of them, you could just tell that their approach was not going to work, because they were trying so hard. It was also comical. I had fairly decent success in those days simply because I had essentially given up hope. I wasn’t looking for a sexual partner – the most I ever wanted was someone to go out to the latest movie or to Avanti’s or whatever restaurant piqued our interest (and I – or we, there were a number of Dutch treat dates along the way -could afford).

But it is difficult to not appear desperate at this point. Who my age goes out on a date anymore with someone who isn’t their wife, unless they’re “on the make”? And how do you get to know someone toward such an end without going on dates, or whatever the current parlance is for that practice these days, one on one? I think I’m stuck with the reputation I have, frankly. It’s not like anyone in the potential pool doesn’t know I’m a widower at this point anyway.

Still, as far as making a girl nervous that I’m auditioning them for the role of ‘the other Darrin‘ in my life, I don’t know that that’s even possible. The thing is, thanks to my own experience with you, I’d be looking for someone I’ve already known and been friends with for some time. Which is a problem, as my circle of friends is scary small (and while a few people have stepped up their efforts to befriend me since you left, virtually all of them are male. It’s probably a good thing – although I feel rather socially awkward around them, even the likes of Lars – I’ve never been a ‘guys’ night out’ type of guy, you know), and of those female friends I have (which I have almost exclusively because of you, I should point out), most of them have a few things that would rule them out. I literally have no options at this point, honey.

And that ought to make sense, as no married man should have a back-pocket optional side piece in case something like what happened to you should happen. At least, not if he’s the decent, loving husband he’s called to be. And so, when the unthinkable happens, it’s not like he can – or should be able to – turn his attention to someone else right away.

And yet… the state of marital bliss is something that’s so hard (okay, fine. Go ahead and laugh at the choice of words. It’s not without a deliberate nature) to let go of. In fact, Pastor Scott actually said it from the platform a few weeks ago: we were meant to become addicted to our wives.

And you’d better believe I was, honey.

And for whatever reason, my Dealer cut off my supply!

So yes, this is what I want to be when I grow up: married. I want to be as happy again as I was with you. If that’s at all possible, and God wills it. As far as I know, I have too much life left in me, and too maybe things to see and do to ever want to do them alone. So I’m going to that newsagent’s, and I’m gonna buy that lottery ticket at some point, and pray that it’s His will that lightning strikes again.

Wish me luck, honey.

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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