Halfway Through the Woods

Dearest Rachel –

Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Others may deceive you.
You decide what’s good.
You decide alone.
But no one is alone.

“No One Is Alone” from Into The Woods

The song sprang to my head early this morning, as I tried to figure out what Chompers wanted at what even I would consider to be unpleasantly early on a Saturday. I’d gotten him outside to pee, and set him in the sunroom, thinking that was what he wanted now that he was up. But after a drink of water, he whined for me to prop him up, and he tottered toward the hall leading back to the master bedroom. So, did he actually want to go back to sleep? And would he permit me to join him in slumberland?

Ha-ha, no, of course not.

And that’s why this song came to mind – along with the fast that you so dearly loved the Broadway production of this show back when I was on the verge of graduating, and you were edging your way to the midpoint of your college career – because the baker keeps trying to fob his son off to Cinderella, explaining that “he always cries when I hold him.” And Chompers is always a little dissatisfied when it’s just me there to tend to him, and I don’t know what to do. And just like at the end of the day, the beginning of the day is a long crawl of “how do I deal with this? How did you deal with this?”

And there’s no Cinderella to help me out (although I suppose Daniel serves as a Jack analogue… only, not when he’s sleeping).

But the song keeps repeating that “you are not alone / No one is alone” as an attempt, however hollow-sounding it may be, at reassurance. And it’s not wrong, thankfully. It’s just that, at that moment, I am alone. At this point, I can’t expect someone to be there when I go to bed, or when I wake up… but those are the moments when I feel the emptiness, the lack of someone the keenest.

Because you have left me halfway through the woods, just like the song says. And Daniel and I are left to deal with the giants that, well, we’d never been aware of before. Were they always there and we were too carefree to notice? Or are they the things we’re dealing with because you left us? And how do we deal with that suddenly missing part of ourselves that was you?

I asked Ellen about this last night, because I don’t understand how she – or anyone who’s single – deals with that absence, the alone-ness. To be honest, I don’t think I understood – or remembered, exactly – what she responded with, other than that she never felt “in love,” and to that extent, really doesn’t miss what she never had. It isn’t much help for me, as I did and I do, so… yeah, we may as well be speaking different languages.

I’m hoping this will sort itself out, given time and patience – things that I confess to having in short supply at the moment. Honestly, I’d just like to get back to normal… but I don’t know if that’s ever going to be a thing. Or what its newest incarnation is going to look like, and whether I’d even like it.

All I can do for now is to prop the old boy up in the sunroom (since he’s now made it clear he’s not going back to sleep), and walk him around until he finally finds a spot he can comfortably settle in on, and let him do so.

So for now, take care, honey. I’ll talk to you later.

P.S. I should note that, at least in the stage version – and you would remember this – the story doesn’t quite end with a happily ever after, either. Oh, the finale does try to end with that phrase, but Cinderella subverts it with a quick “I wish,” right at the end – which doesn’t even musically resolve.

And I mean RIGHT at the end – her little subversion is at 12:20 on this recording, if you want to skip to it

I don’t know if that means anything, necessarily, but I thought it deserved mentioning. I present the story to you, and you take it for whatever you think it’s worth.

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.

4 thoughts on “Halfway Through the Woods

  1. Absolutely loved “Into the Woods” during my high school choir-geek days. (I performed “No More” for an audition once…)

    As for this point… and the meaning… consider that the alternative was “No Man is an Island”, which is the point that Sondheim and Lapine were trying to make. We are interconnected with the people around us; our actions affect, and are in turn affected by, those that we share this world with. The point of the song (and the musical) is to understand and appreciate those connections, and how we live affect each of those around us; in the story, the characters go from their own wishes and wants to “Let’s tough this out together”.

    And, as stated, sometimes people do leave us as we make our journey.

    (And now that that’s done, have to ask… was the title for “At the End of the Day” inspired by Les Miz?)


    1. True, I know I’m not an island, and in fact, I have a number of friends (and family!) doing their level best to support both Daniel and myself. It’s just that, on a moment-by-moment basis – and especially as the day opens and closes – other people simply can’t be there for me, and they are the most difficult times of the day. This may pose a cause-and-effect question, though, but I’m not gong there for the moment.

      As for the title of the last entry, no. Rachel loved Sondheim, and Les Miz wasn’t really even on her radar. I’m just talking about the literal end of the day, when everyone who might come by (or that I might have seen that day) goes home, and it’s. just. us.


      1. There is one more comment, dealing with the alone-ness. For reasons you can probably guess, I decided during my college days that a relationship wasn’t happening. (Given recent developments you’re also aware of, I may be rethinking that, but that rethinking is going to take some time.) I decided, and lived with that choice; it’s something we do. And when a person lives with something for decades, unless it’s absolutely killing them, they find a way. My life just is; it was designed to be one. In a lot of ways, you’re dealing with the opposite: you (and Rachel) made a choice, lived with that choice for a few decades, and now it’s… something else. Your life was designed to be two, then three. Now…


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