Dearest Rachel –

The Scots have this perfectly charming word that, by dint of it belonging exclusively to them throughout the English-speaking word, speaks volumes about their level of self-awareness in comparison to the rest of us.


havered; past participle: havered; gerund or present participle: havering
to talk foolishly; babble.

Evidently, foolish talk is so common in Scotland that they had to come up with a word for it. Either that, or they recognized it in their fellow Scots to such an extent – and in a way that the rest of the Anglophone world refuses to do so.

And I’ll be honest about myself: I’d like to say that I don’t engage in the practice myself, but what could anyone call what I’m doing here? I’m writing letters every day to you, knowing full well you’ll never see a one of them, in an effort to chronicle either my attempts to claw back to recovery, or my slow slide into mental disintegration due to the trauma of having lost you so suddenly and so soon. If that isn’t a case of babbling, I’m not sure what fits the bill.

And it isn’t like I didn’t acknowledge the fact that I had plans and ambitions that I knew even then wouldn’t come to pass that I would sometimes talk with you about. Even back in the days when we were courting, swapping mix tapes with each other both to demonstrate our musical tastes and explain in the way that professional lyricist could so much better than we ourselves, what we were like, and what each of us could expect from the other, I sent this song to you about how you could expect me to be “blowing smoke” from time to time:

To be sure, the term ‘havering’ never came up, but we Yanks have phrases like this that could be taken to mean much the same thing. Although, upon looking it up, our phrase “blowing smoke” tends to have a somewhat more deceptive air to it – as though I was lying to you about my plans and ambitions as part of my babbling on to you.

Frankly, I think if there was any deceptive nature to all those future imaginations, it was more self-inflicted, with a side order of not realizing how difficult it might be to actually make a success out of them. If I was kidding you about what I could do, and what I wanted to do, I was equally guilty of kidding myself about them.

But I’d like to think the lyrics indicate a mostly harmless nature to my babbling to you about what I (and by extension, we) might do at some point in the future. To hear Terry Taylor put it, even Daniel could see through the ramblings of his manchild father, and smile indulgently at the thoughts that occur to me to try.

And let’s be fair – we managed to accomplish a fair number of things that most people would only have been able to dream of. And so many of the things we managed to do together would never have occurred to me to include in my dreams and plans at the time that I sent this to you, “my lover and my friend”.

It’s just that… we could have accomplished so much more, given more time.

All of which doesn’t even touch on the term “havering,” and where I heard it, why I like it, and why it – like pretty much everything else that we shared throughout our lives together – is now tinged with sadness and melancholy. After all, we’re not Scottish, and while we’ve visited the area a couple of times, we never encountered the term during the times we did. So where’s it from?

Turns out, it’s from another song. Not one that we shared in those days of ‘getting to know you as a potential life partner,’ no, song was released much later. But it’s definitely the sort that belongs at a wedding reception, as the lyrics are – as far as I’m concerned – as good as any vows that I’ve ever heard at a legitimate wedding.

It’s a song by a pair of brothers (twins, I reckon, from the look of them) who billed themselves as The Proclaimers. And while they’d had a few other hits at some point, like “Sunshine on Leith” and “Letter from America”, their breakout was “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

And while it’s a bit distracting to show a video with the cast of Doctor Who cavorting to their music, I prefer it to the official video that includes footage from the movie “Benny and Joon,” which we never saw and have no connection to. Besides, it’s kind of cool that the 10th Doctor, David Tennant himself, considers himself to be one of their biggest fans – which is why the cast and crew put this together as part of his wrap party when he handed the controls of the TARDIS off to Matt Smith:

There’s no question that this is a joyous celebration of a man’s devotion to his dearest love – everything that he does, from this day forward, is done with and for her, and what could be more worth celebrating than that – although it’s clear it’s not really the sort of song with the kind of beat one can really dance to, as much as march to. And the cast a crew do so with such vigor and delight!

Of course, by the time we first encountered this video, there was already a layer of sadness attached to it, as Elisabeth Sladen – Sarah Jane Smith herself – had fallen victim to cancer. Perhaps you’ve met her up there – although hopefully under less awkward circumstances than when you met Louise Jameson in the washroom at Chicago Tardis back in 2019.

And now, as I listen to the words “And when I grow old, well I know I’m gonna be / I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you,” well…

It was one of those lines that, when we would hear it while driving along on one of our numerous road trips, we would glance as each other, and clasp our hands across the console. Like with Old Fezziwig’s speech, this was a silent promise we made to each other that whatever we would do, we would do together and for each other’s benefit – even if we never promised to walk those five hundred miles for the other’s sake.

Only now, you’re never going to be growing old, with me or anyone else. And not all the walking or the havering I might do could bring you back.

So where does that leave me? If everything I was doing was for your benefit, and you’re no longer there, what am I doing this for? All this talk, all these written words, well… they truly are foolish at this point, aren’t they?

I really don’t have any solutions at this point. All I’m doing for now is taking each day, each moment as it comes, and trying to deal with the fact that no, I’m not waking up next to you, but I still need to wake up and go about my day. There are other people that need me…

…just not the way we needed each other.

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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