Dearest Rachel –
So, now you’re gone. And I’m on my own, still raising Daniel, but essentially alone.
And I don’t mind telling you, I hate it.
So much so, that I am already seeking God’s will to find somebody new. Not so much as to take your place as… maybe fill the spot you left vacant? And while I don’t recall praying for guidance in any of the previous decisions, I do find myself asking for Him to speak up and tell me where to go next – and with who.
It may be presumptuous of me to be insisting on there being a “someone else,” but – and I’ve already said it you several times before – I simply can’t imagine being like this, on my own with no one else to walk by my side for the rest of my days ahead. I may not be in the prime of my life, but I’d like to think I still have a few years left in me. Now, if the Lord meant to take me at the same time he did you, He could’ve done that. But He didn’t. Which leaves me with a question: what do I do now?
God himself, right from the start, stated that “it is not right for a man to be alone.” And while it’s never a good idea to disagree with Him, I can’t imagine a time when I have agreed more with Him on a topic.
The problem is, while it may not be right for a man to be alone, it seems that the same cannot be said for the modern woman. Thanks to your gregarious nature, we have several friends in our closest circle who no more seem to have a need for a man in their life than the proverbial fish is in need of a bicycle. They’re single, and have no desire to change their situation.
So it seems that, however little I really want to, I’m going to have to start from scratch if I need to find another life partner. I mean, I don’t even know if she exists, let alone her name.
For the sake of easily identifying this theoretical girl (okay, woman – but I confess that I would wish that she still be young at heart, the way you were), let’s give her a name. And rather than risk a name of anybody that I already know, let’s come up with something unusual to the point of virtual impossibly.
I’m going to use the name “Megumi.” It comes from the name of a character from Oh My Goddess – the protagonist’s sister, in fact, whose name – back in those bad old days when translators figured western readers wouldn’t ‘get’ Japanese names – was literally translated to “Joy.”
You might be wondering, why give her a name like this? Why not just spell it out and refer to her as ‘Joy’ in the first place? It’s a fair question, I suppose. I have to admit, the name seems a bit old-fashioned. And at any rate, I kind of associate it with the name of Jack Lewis’ own lost love (do you remember the time at the Metropolis when we saw that one-man show ‘A Night With C.S. Lewis’? The actor playing Lewis spoke so movingly about ‘his’ love Joy Davidman – and it turned out, when we spoke with him after the show, that he had actually lost his own wife only some six or seven months previously), so the name is more associated with somebody like yourself, who left too soon, as opposed to somebody I would expect to see outlive me (although, to be fair, I expected you to outlive me, too). And I’ll also admit, there is a little bit of the otaku in me that hopes she might share – or be willing to share – that particular hobby – along with, I should hope, many others – with me.
Now, I’m sure somebody could readily tell me that it’s foolish of me to connect whether I’m happy in this life with whether or not I have “the right female walking beside me to help bear the burden,” as old Fezziwig put it. One’s joy, or even one’s contentment, is not supposed to be contingent on any earthly thing or person. The problem is, I have to admit to just not being that spiritual. At this moment, I am too weak, I think, to be satisfied with God alone. Of course, maybe that’s what He’s trying to teach me to be, and until I learn that lesson, I can’t move forward.
Look, I’m not about to curse Him for taking you, but I confess that I want that empty space filled, and soon. The very thought that He might will that I spend the rest of my life single absolutely terrifies me, and I sink into that possibility like Peter on the lake. Meanwhile, He must shake His head in dismay at me: “Oh, Randy… you have so little faith.”
Well, yes… yes, I do.
There’s a certain bit of irony here. When I first considered creating a YouTube channel, I saw myself as a member of GenX dispensing advice to Millennials and GenZedders – a sort of “hey, look, I made it this far, you can, too!” type of thing. One of the first topics I had in mind was to let the guys who might watch learn how to attract a woman. Basically, the best thing to do is to give up. Just resign yourself to the fact that you’re not going to find a life partner. Because after all, that’s exactly what worked for me.
I would still insist that it’s sound advice. No woman, at any age, finds desperation attractive. And I had some stories about certain guys back in college who had that with of desperation about them, and how they looked so foolish around the objects of their affection.
But now that I’m back in that situation, I’m learning that that it’s so much easier said than done. And it doesn’t help that the pool is that much shallower than it was back in college days. Insouciance is all well and good in theory, but I feel like I don’t have much time, and I don’t have many chances. Even over the last year, how much of life did we miss out on, how many memories were we not able to have and create, thanks to everything that shut down? I want my life back, but I feel like I need a partner to share it with. And I suddenly find myself not really knowing how to practice what I was about to preach.
So all I’m left to do is to pray for his wisdom and guidance, and I hope that He gives me direction in this matter. And then the hope that I recognize when He’s pointing her out to me – assuming, once again, that He will.
And then, the question is, if I should find Megumi, and should she be within His will for me – for both of us – will I be able to give her my whole heart? To a certain extent, it pains me to say so, but no. It’s just not possible. There are great chunks of my life that are dyed a deep purple, and the color is set fast. And really, it would be inappropriate for me to set you aside completely, denying how important you were to me. I will always have a place in my heart for you, and I simply cannot give it to Megumi, any more than I could erase whole decades of time.
The thing is, that goes both ways. I have to assume that Megumi would have baggage of her own. You don’t get through fifty years – or even forty – without experiencing a great deal of life. No one is a tabula rasa at our age. And even if she hasn’t had any relationship experience – a thoroughly unlikely, albeit not unprecedented, situation – I suspect there would have to be some emotional baggage behind that choice, too, that would have to be overcome.
That’s the trouble about marriage. Women always hope it’s going to change the husband. Men always hope it won’t change their wives—and both are disappointedH. M. Harwood and R. Gore-Browne, “Cynara”
I imagine, too, that Megumi might want me to change a few things about me. To be honest, I’m open to that, depending on what we’re talking about. After all, there are several women already in my life who are – would ‘transforming’ be too strong a word for it? – it even now. Jan is sensitizing me to the mess that this house was, and has instilled in me a desire to keep it from ever getting that way again. Which does mean, I’m sorry to say to you, that I’m not going to take the time to wash everything before I throw it out – and that I will be throwing things out promptly. Meanwhile, Erin has been encouraging me toward exercising (which is something of a mutual thing, to a certain extent) and eating healthier, although I confess to having no taste for hummus, goat yogurt, or savory oatmeal (which as far as I’m concerned, is just something that Taco Bell refers to as ‘filler’).
Let’s be honest, women have been civilizing forces on men since antiquity. And I’m even saying that despite just having heard a sermon on I Corinthians 14, wherein Paul talks about how women shouldn’t be disrupting the service (to be sure, these days when I read that passage, I just picture a bunch of Karens trying to dictate what is or isn’t said from the platform. With that mindset, what Paul asks for actually seems understandable, even reasonable). Let’s just say that, when discussing influence, women definitely fall under the category of “the greater the angel, the greater the devil.” They can influence us men toward such good, and I would sort of hope that maybe she could do so to me. I do suspect that, given Jan’s and Erin’s influence already, well… I wouldn’t say you wouldn’t recognize me, but you would see a noticeable difference. Hopefully, you’d see an improvement.
The point is, I need to make adjustments for Megumi’s sake, and she would for mine. That’s a necessary thing of every relationship, especially one that, most likely, will be the second time around for each of us. We’ll both come in with experiences – and most likely, people (your situation of being the last of your immediate family left alive would probably make you something of an outlier) that will inevitably color our futures, and each of us is in turn going to have to deal with the other’s history. The best case scenario I can probably expect is that she had had an experience much like mine: that of having lost a beloved husband, but at least having a positive experience of marriage. Dealing with the negative ramifications of a divorce – and there is no such thing as a completely amiable divorce, let’s be honest here – would prove to be a lot more troublesome. I honestly don’t know if I could make up for whatever negativity this version of Megumi would’ve gone through.
But at the moment, I feel like I could deal with just about any level of drama. Anything at all. Just… please, Lord… don’t make me spend the rest of my life alone.
I have since looked it up, and it turns out that I was mistaken about the translation. It turns out that the name Megumi actually translates more like “grace” or “blessing.” In a way, that’s almost more appropriate. Like I said before, it would be inappropriate for my joy of life to depend on whether or not I find her. But if I were to find her, I would consider a double portion of God’s grace and blessing to have been bestowed upon me. And for now, all I can do is to pray for her. Pray that she exists, and pray that I recognize when God points her out to me. Because I have yet to recognize His voice in previous turning points, and I want to make sure I’m following Him as I seek her out.
つづく (to be continued…)