Left Behind Along the Way

Dearest Rachel –

So, last night was the weekly online Bible study with Pastor Joel. And before he begins recording, he always asks a sort of ‘icebreaker’ question. I have to admit, sometimes it strikes me as a little odd, since most of us are regular attendees – both of the study and at church (at one campus or another, so there’s that) – and therefore know each other pretty well, but whatever. It’s nice to start off something like this with a light tone, the same way most speeches and sermons begin with a joke or a humorous anecdote.

Last night’s question, however, didn’t quite work out that way, and I’m afraid it’s mostly my fault.

The question was “What is that thing that you enjoyed when you were younger, that you cannot stand now?” Now that I think about it, I’d have been curious to know what you might have offered as a response. I know that once upon a time, when I first met you in college, you had an affinity for rainbows and unicorns – pretty much the de rigueur décor for teenage girls back in those days, I dare say – which you slowly dropped in favor of the single color that became your most defining external characteristic, purple.

This little cube you crocheted back in high school (and which you kept in your dorm throughout college)
still sits in the basement, wondering what happened, and where you are, I imagine

Of course, it may well be that all of the things of earth have grown strangely dim, given that you find yourself in His presence these days. Everything you knew and loved down here were little more than frivolous diversions, at best hollow shadows of what enjoyment could be found where you are now.

I’d really be curious to find out.

For what it’s worth, the general consensus among most of the others was roller coasters, and how they enjoyed them as kids, but don’t think they’re up to riding them now. Which is weird to me, as I was terrified out them as a kid – always thinking that something was going to give out as the car ascended the hill, or was dragged up that vertical tunnel going into that first drop. Even now, I’m not fond of them, but mostly because I’m afraid my glasses are going to fly off (and as far as taking them off to ride, sure, I can do that. But then I don’t see what’s going on, and isn’t that the whole point?). But I got dragged onto the Demon at Great America back in high school, and found that it was a lot of fun. Sure, I prefer straight inversions to corkscrews when it comes to going upside down, but otherwise, I have no problems with the thrill rides.

To be honest, I think Joel was expecting people to talk about food they liked once upon a time that they no longer enjoyed. Again, an odd expectation, as it usually goes the other way over time. Our tastes expand (and, in fairness, our taste buds dull, so what used to be horrendously spicy once upon a time, for instance, is no big deal as we get older. Heck, I think that might be what drives the search for ever-hotter pepper sauces, as we as a society seem to be constantly building up a tolerance for ever-increasing Scoville units), and what we turned up our noses at as children becomes appealing to us as adults. Whether we give stuff up as childish is a matter of debate. Certainly you had boxes and boxes of Count Chocula squirreled away for those times you were in the mood for it and it wasn’t anywhere near Halloween, but that only puts you in the company of the likes of Quentin Tarantino, so… that doesn’t make you any stranger than he is.

Now, whether you think he is, is another matter entirely.

But I’m stalling, aren’t I? You’re wondering how I brought the tone down with my response.

Actually, I’d expect you more to wonder which thing of many might no longer appeal, because so much of what I – what we, Daniel and I – experienced and enjoyed, we did with you, and to do them now… it just doesn’t seem right without you. Sure, we’ve gone back to the Station, but Daniel doesn’t do breakfasts at McDonald’s even to this day. Shortly after the accident, he would watch 8-Bit Ryan and some of the other Let’s Players late at night (he told me he was watching them with you, and if so, I hope you enjoyed them too), but neither of us has found it in ourselves to watch any of the meme channels any more – especially not while eating, like you liked to do. There’s so much, and it’s still so soon, that nearly everything still carries your scent, and your absence haunts it all

But what I told everyone I disliked now that I never had a problem with back then was… displays of affection. The sight of couples together these days, it just… I don’t know, I can’t explain it exactly. I don’t want to seem bitter or anything (and I would expect those of our friends who have been single all their lives should find that sort of sight more annoying than I do, but then, they don’t realize what they’re missing out on the way I do), but there’s this constant underlying stream of thought asking “why do they get to be happy and together? To say nothing of being happy together?”

I wonder if, once upon a time, we used to bring out these thoughts in other people. You remember how we used to love certain songs at dances, practically turning them into routines as if we were Olympian pairs skaters without the skates. Sometimes, you’d actually drag me onto the dance floor when ‘Pretty Woman’ came on, so you could dance around me, teasing me like Carmen doing the Habanero, while I’d round the song off by trudging off the dance floor, faux-discouraged, only to have you ‘[walk] back to me’ and end up in my arms with the final notes of the song.

But the crowning combination of dance music and public display of affection had to be the “Unchained Melody.” We had been introduced to the song from watching the movie Ghost, rather than growing up with the tune like the previous generation, and we did everything we could to imitate what we’d seen on the silver screen while keeping our formal attire on and in place.

I loved it (even if, years later, I worried we might be making a scene), you loved it (to the point where you would indeed drag me onto the floor for it). It was wonderful.

[It had the extra bonus of irritating my sister, although I never could understand why. After all, she’s married, too. She and Bill should be able to enjoy each other, right? So what if we were somewhat… indecorous? Sure, you were no Demi Moore – and I was no Patrick Swyaze – but we loved it and loved each other… why would we care if the whole world saw us?]

But now, I kind of get it. Those who couldn’t… or didn’t… have a partner would see, and regret missing out. It hurts to watch, and remember what was.

Maybe, if the Lord is kind enough, I’ll be able to enjoy that again with someone else. I do hope you will understand, should He allow it. Until then…

Is it true, honey? Do you indeed take the love inside with you?

See you.

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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