Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly

Dearest Rachel –

As things have been progressing with the entire cleaning out and organizing process that Jan has been doing, I’ve noticed a little change in my own personality over time. I’ve actually gotten sensitive to a certain level of clutter, to the point where I can’t work in a place that’s too crowded with stuff. I’m actually starting to wonder how I managed back in the day. In any event, I have no desire to let things go back to the way they were.

Jan, for her part, seems overjoyed at this change in me (although admittedly she only knows it because I told her, rather than from any noticeable actual personality change). At the same time, her forte is not in routine maintenance of a home so much as the large scale, wholesale cleaning-out and organizing process. In essence, her task in our home will at some point come to an end – hopefully soon (not that I haven’t appreciate her coming by on a regular basis) – while the task of upkeep and preventing the house from falling back into the state it was is for either myself or someone else better equipped to do so.

And so it’s come to this, where – on the advice of both my folks and my sister – I have enlisted the services of Kris, who will be working on the more labor-intensive process of simply cleaning rooms on a more ongoing basis. She’d been over late last week, just to get a lay of the land, but Monday was her first crack at actually taking a room and applying her special magic to it.

She spent three hours working on the master bathroom, and it looks so much better. I really wish you could seen it. I would put up some pictures, but as per usual, it never occurred to me to take a ‘before’ picture so there’s really no context to show how much better it looks than what we’ve been used to. The shower, in particular, looks better than it has in almost twenty years. For all the squeegeeing we’d done after each use, the walls are more pristine than we could ever get them.

As the two of us discussed what we – or rather she (unlike Jan, where I take a very active role in the process – since she doesn’t necessarily know from looking at something whether it’s important or not – Kris operates on her own wherever she’s assigned) – would tackle the next time she’s here, I suggested the hall leading to the laundry room. She pointed out the cobwebs, and I acknowledge that you probably wouldn’t want them taken down: “don’t harm the spiders – they help kill mosquitoes.”

In response, she pointed out that the cobwebs dangling from the ceiling in the laundry room like old New Year’s Eve decorations were probably quite old. The Charlottes that put them there that long since languished and passed on.

But my point remains: the thing is, you literally would not hurt a fly. At most, you let nature do the dirty work for you – like these Charlottes. Virtually all life to you was sacred, and you treated it accordingly.

Now of course, that meant that everything was on ‘hard’ mode, particularly during the summer. Daniel and I couldn’t just smack an insect that was flying by and well, bugging us. No, we had to catch it before introducing it to the outside world. To be honest, I often thought we might be letting more in by that simple act then we would be throwing out, but whatever.

You did make several exceptions to be sure. At least you let us destroy mosquitoes, since even you couldn’t figure out what they might do that was beneficial to the ecosystem. And to be fair, they were much easier targets. You had no great love for ticks or chiggers either, although they too had to be treated with some care regardless, as they would tend to latch on in certain places, and couldn’t just be smacked flat but rather extracted from the skin.

But by and large, everything was part of God’s creation to you. Everything had its purpose somewhere, even if we personally didn’t know what it was. And everything should be left, as best we could, in peace. It might not belong in the house, but we would simply need to show it the error of its ways.

When I was a kid, I read somewhere that, for all the species that we as humanity have managed to (mostly inadvertently) eradicate from this earth, we have yet to get rid of a single insect species. I don’t know how true that is (it was probably one of those things from Robert Ripley, where it was no skin off the author’s nose whether you believed it or not), but if it is, I don’t think the insect world would be too terribly harmed by the fact that well, I don’t intend to show them the kind of mercy that you used to.

That evening after both Kris and Jan had left (yes, they were both over on Monday, working in a home improvement tag team fashion), there was a moth flying around the bathroom as I prepare myself for bed. Now, you would’ve tried to catch it with your hand, walked it over to the door and thrown it outside. Not me. I waited till it landed on a surface, and smacked it with the back of my hand. It fell to the ground, I wrapped it up in a piece of tissue, and I… disposed of it.

Look, it’s not like I take any real joy in being merciless. It’s just that I handle things differently than you did. Does that make me a worse person than you? Maybe. Nature is harsh, honey – just ask your friends, the spiders – and I guess so am I. I’m just trying to keep the place clean, in my own way.

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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