Dearest Rachel –
Since starting this blog, I have for some time wanted to address how Daniel and I (well, maybe I shouldn’t claim to speak for Daniel on this, but still) have been dealing with losing you when compared to the ‘textbook’ process outlined by the late Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. You probably would remember it best in comparison to butter substitutes:
Now, I understand that things don’t necessary go in that order, and some will be skipped altogether in some cases – there’s a reason the phrase ‘textbook case’ is a thing, and that’s because most cases don’t follow the textbook – but I really would like to know what “acceptance” looks like, and how to get there, so I can get on with life. After all, I know you’re not coming back (hm, so that’s that for “bargaining”) and I’m not going to hurry up to try to join you (does that rule out “depression”?), and life just keeps on coming, so I’ve got to just get up each day and deal with it.
The weird thing is, this could mean I’m already there at the end of the path… or I’m still stuck at step one. Which, given today’s date, is probably an appropriate topic for discussion.
Honestly, it’s hard to say whether I’ve gone through that phase. Does that seem weird, or is that too meta to even say that? You’d think it proves that I’m in denial if I were to deny that I’ve been in denial about it all, wouldn’t you?
But, as surreal as everything around us seems, there hasn’t been a lot of denial we could even indulge in. Apart from the moment that the doctor first greeted us with that grim look in his eyes, and we realized you hadn’t just struck a stand of saplings in the chest or something less serious, there hasn’t been a whole lot of room for it. We saw you on the gurney, lifeless but breathing. We watched as they pulled the tubes and equipment, and as your breathing slowed and stopped. I saw the photo from the funeral home, and confirmed it was you – or rather, your body – they had received before the cremation. And while there might be questions about the actual source of the ashes in ‘your’ urn, having not watched the actual event and the collection of those ashes afterward, there really is no question that you’re gone.
Then there’s the emptiness of the house, which I’ve gone into so many times already. And sure, I’m long since used to gong to sleep with your side of the bed empty, but there’s no denying your absence if and when I roll over to address the dog when he fusses at two in the morning. There’s the slight echo in the kitchen, which still seems to phase Daniel to the point where he will not go in there unless absolutely necessary. And of course, there’s the fact that you’re not there to object as we’ve removed literal tons of material from the house. What’s to deny?
Frankly, if I were to deny anything, it would be the sum total of events throughout this whole rotten year, from the middle of last March until now. I keep waiting for Allen Funt to show up with his Candid Camera crew, and announce to the world that this was all a colossal prank on everybody, and we could all go back to the way things were before everything went absolutely sideways. I keep waiting for the ‘ping’ noise, and the following announcement:
Of course, there would be conditions: I confess that, were he to do that, I’d make darn sure to grab his collar, and not let go until he brought you back, too – because what’s the point of moving about the country without you at my side? And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be alone in this sentiment. I mean, if he’d come back, why not bring everyone else back with him?
Really – and I defy anyone to argue with me on this point – this past year does seem like it’s been a cruel joke on the entire world. Although perhaps Xi Jinping seems more like the joker rather than the victim here.
Of course, were someone to pop out, Candid Camera style, to let us know it’s all been a gag, it probably wouldn’t work out nearly as well as all that. We’ve all been put through such utter awfulness that putting all those genies back into all those bottles just isn’t feasible.
Besides, with our luck, the whole affair might actually be like this anomalous phenomenon being monitored by the SCP Foundation, as described by the accompanying video (It’s a new channel Daniel and I have found: too many channels we’ve just stopped watching because of the poignant nostalgia of ‘oh watching this isn’t the same without Mom,’ so we’ve been building up a new set of subscriptions from scratch):
Given your taste for horror movies, you would have enjoyed this.
Anyway, in the lighthearted spirit of April Fools’ Day, the nice thing about the SCP Foundation is that it reminds you that, no matter how awful real life can be, there are fictional worlds where everything is so. much. worse. I think that’s the appeal, despite the creep factor this all has when you’re watching it in the dark at midnight or thereafter. You just have to sigh in relief that things just aren’t that bad.