Before We Close the Lid

Dearest Rachel –

I confess that there are some days where I’m still at a loss as to how to deal with Jan. She’s great fun to be around, and she pushes me to do what needs to be done. Of course, it’s that very part of her that leaves me stuck for how to respond to her. I sometimes feel I have to justify everything that I decide that I want to keep – mostly because these things fly in the face of her rules of thumb.

After all, we’ve been going through the office upstairs, where a good number of our bookshelves are. And in particular, there are a vast number of your books up there. Now, her basic rule is that, if I’m not likely to read it, there’s no point in me keeping it. I understand where she’s coming with that, but as I’ve mentioned before, I know how much time and effort and – let’s be honest – money you put into acquiring those collections.

To say nothing about trying to determine when I’ll ever have the courage to read something like this. I can relate to Jack Lewis right now, but I’m not sure I’m ready to actually enter his head, and experience his loss as it templates over mine.

It almost seems sacrilegious to be getting rid of these things.


At the same time, she dug out a lot of things from the closet that truly would be sacrilegious for me to simply discard. All sorts of documents from our days at Wesleyan – and in some cases previous to that. This, I suppose, is exactly what that folders you labeled “Rachel’s Masterpieces” and “Randy’s Masterpieces” were designed to hold. And that’s where I put all those.

There’s even a letter there that you began to write to Elizabeth back in early 1991. I’ll probably end up transcribing it and including it some Sunday blog post, but I also probably should just send it on to her on your behalf. I won’t say that I’ll ever have enough from you in the way of messages, but I should certainly distribute the ones you meant to send off to somebody else, so that they have a little scrap of you that was meant for them. Considering that you acknowledged in your letter to Oprah how little you liked to write, any little bit I could send on to someone whom you intended to contact would probably be a welcome last message.

Also in the closet there’s a fairly large box full of kit that you always told me about, but never got out and tried to put together:

That’s right, your first computer. A Commodore Vic 20, complete with tapes of games and, I suppose, other data. I confess, I never bothered to look. Heck, I don’t even know how to put it together, nor would I know how to operate it.

I’m thinking this was a container that your dad built to keep one of the cassette tapes safe. Kudos to him, because it certainly did protect those tapes; why, I couldn’t figure out how to get into it to look at the tape, even.
And this particular cartridge was actually still in its mailer (Jan and I took it out so as not to include our home mailing address should someone purchase the unit and all of its accessories). Judging from the postmark on the mailer, you had me order this back in 2002 – but of course, you never opened it, you never used it.

In a way, going through this was like making a weird reverse unboxing episode – taking just one last look before we close the lid, and send it on its way, wherever that may be.

Jan assures me that anyone actually shopping at Goodwill – at least out here in the suburbs – is looking for something unusual (as opposed to somebody poor looking for cheap clothing) so who knows, maybe somebody will find that and find that interesting. I certainly hope so.

One last book for now: in amongst the back row of books, I found one wrapped in purple (of course) construction paper. Apparently, it was a gift you received that you never even got around to opening.

It took a little doing, but I carefully got it open, to find this:

Ah, yes. Your beloved Madeleine L’Engle. And to think, you never knew about this one.
“Presented to Rachel Sanders by BASIC. Congratulations on your (hopeful) graduation! May 1992”

I had to smile about that ‘hopeful’ in parentheses. It was a near run thing, wasn’t it, whether you were going to pass everything in order to graduate that month. We would’ve had to put our wedding off until you could get your degree, and you and your folks had made all the reservations already.

It was a nice choice of your friends at BASIC to get you a book about L’Engle’s marriage. Maybe it could’ve had some kind of pattern to follow throughout these past years and decades…

But we’ll never know now. Because now, it’s time to close the lid and say goodbye… for now.

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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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