Is This What Normal Looks Like Now?

Dearest Rachel –

Saturday mornings, like everything else, are never going to be the same as they were. That sounds like i’m stating the obvious, but Saturday is when it’s all that much more keenly felt. Even after retiring, I would spend weekdays at the ‘office’ at my folks’ place, so there were plenty of waking hours where your absence just wasn’t felt, because I wasn’t home. And while Sundays were spent together at church, we were surrounded by other people (and half the time, I would be working in the booth on my own), so again, it drowns out your absence somewhat.

Of course, it occurs to me that on those other days, Daniel would not be as separate from you as I would be, so it wouldn’t be like any one day would all that much worse than any other, in terms of dealing with your absence. Then again, that would mean that pretty much every day is awful for him, since you two would be together so much of the time, and these days are so much less because you’re gone.

But that’s his story to tell, not mine; I wouldn’t presume to venture a guess about his mindset on dealing with your absence.

What I can go into is what Saturdays used to be like, and what they’re shaping up to be these days, and you can decide for yourself if we’re adjusting to a “new normal” (bleh!) or not.

Once upon a time, Saturdays were a time when our differences would be somewhat pronounced. As often as not, I would wake up at around five or six, shower and dress relatively casual, and head off to the office to take care of work that needed to be done before a deadline – particularly the monthly sales taxes, where each state’s activity had to be calculated and filed separately. Sometimes, it was just easier to do the work in an empty office with no one hovering overhead.

After a couple of hours, I would decide that

  • a.) I’d done enough work for an ostensibly non-work day, and
  • b.) you and Daniel were probably awake by now

So, I’d close down, pack up and head home. But I would make sure to call you first, and see if you wanted me to pick something up for breakfast on my way. Most of the time, I found myself stopping at the McDonald’s barely half a mile from the house on the way home.

All of which became a habit that continued on through the time when I no longer went to the office on Saturdays, partly due to the company discouraging that kind of behavior as a security risk, and partly because you would wake up a little earlier and make staying home with you so much more… worth my while. But we’d still do our level best to finish, clean up and get dressed before it was too late to pick up breakfast as per usual – although once Mickey D’s started offering breakfast throughout the day, it was an absolute godsend (I hope that isn’t blasphemous to put it that way). It was so nice to be able to take our time, enjoy each other and the day before us, and then go out and get what we wanted whenever we wanted.

Eventually, you and I started to expand our taste, and stop at other places when we had the time; the triangle contained so many places offering a quick breakfast, we saw no reason to limit ourselves. We’d pick up Taco Bell for you, maybe a small bite at Burger King, and still be able to stop at (a different) McDonald’s for Daniel, as he was habituated to his burrito-smoothie-hot chocolate combination over the past couple of years.

But since the accident, he hasn’t been up to McDonald’s at all anymore. He tells me it reminds him too much of the before time. And I can’t disagree. Today, I actually found myself stopping at Taco Bell for, maybe, the second time since you’ve been gone. I even went so far as to order him a Baja Blast like the two of you liked to have and nurse for a couple of days (for my part, a day-old Kickstart has just enough oomph in it to get me going on a Sunday morning in the booth without being over-carbonated). He didn’t object when I gave it to him along with the breakfast he’d requested me to pick up (a bacon-and-egg flatbread from Sooubway – yeah, another one of our inside jokes), but gave me a sad little smile and an “aww” when I handed it to him. The smallest things sometimes trigger so much nostalgia…

On the subject of nostalgia, I should mention that, during the course of cleaning out the house, Jan and I have found several disposable cameras in various places. And while I’d like to patronize our local pharmacist with regard to getting them developed, for whatever reason, they never have the envelopes needed to ship them off for processing. So, this morning, after two weeks of trying locally, I was left with no other option but to take the cameras to Walmart instead.

Look, they had what was needed in order to get the job done.

Now I have to sit tight for the next couple of weeks to find out what was on these cameras. Will there be something we did together I forgot about so many years ago? Or has the film decayed to the point of being irretrievable? It’s all a matter of chance.

Once home, food in hand, it almost did begin to feel like a normal Saturday midday. We sat and watched a few videos while we ate, occasionally stopping to deal with Chompers whenever he would start whining about… whatever. Either he wanted water, or he wanted to get rid of water, alternately. I’d say that I don’t recall him being this constantly difficult back in the day, but I don’t know if it was just me not paying attention when you were handling him yourself. If he was this way back then, I’m sorry for never realizing what you went through in dealing with him.

One other thing that was different these days was that I have been perched at the dining room table when I’m eating these days. Well, you’ve seen the pictures – we’ve gotten rid of so much. It’s cleaned off, topside and underside. You can sit there and eat… so I do.

That, and have multiple computers up and running – I’ve been trying to get into the machines you left behind. For all the passwords you clued me in on, I’m at a loss for your Windows 10 password PIN number; however, I am able to log in as myself. Still, I wonder if there are files I can’t get to, that are trapped behind your access codes – which you never bothered to write down.

Not that I’m going to fault you for that – I’ve never written mine down, either (and I certainly don’t intend to here), but I’m still at a bit of a loss as to what to do at this point.

Anyway, since I have multiple computers open here on the dining room table, one of the other things I’m doing is getting back to that gave of Civilization (Caveman to Cosmos mod) I’d been working on since October of 2019. It was one of those things I would do when we were all in the same room – ostensibly watching a video together – but we were all playing different games on our own individual computers at the same time. You had your Gardens of Time and Minecraft, Daniel had a character construction program (I think it was called Pochi Kisekei) and occasionally dabble in Minecraft as well (although he was the one to get us into the program, both as the game itself and watching certain Let’s Players, he’d let it slide since then), and I would queue up the videos while working on Civilization.

And it is rather tedious work once your in the endgame – I’d forgotten how much effort it took to go through in order to update every last city’s build queue. I’d say it’s no wonder I set it aside so often, but I had been playing it just a week before everything went wrong, so…

And you know, I would occasionally have these flashes of “this isn’t right, we shouldn’t be doing this” about the fact that we were all off in our own little worlds despite being in the same room sharing (at least) the videos together. Shouldn’t we be talking, or doing something together? But I shook it off every time, as each of us were doing what we wanted to, and why mess with that? Besides, we had no end of time together, didn’t we?

Yes, I say things like that a lot in these letters, don’t I? It’s kind of a recurring theme.

But there you are. That has been this Saturday, at least until such time as Logan shows up, and I head out to work the booth for the Saturday service. It’s all starting to seem like a routine… like normal.

Only… I don’t know. Is this how I should expect it to be?

I wish I knew.

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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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