The Liberation of Surrender

Dearest Rachel –

So just last night, I was observing how difficult it was for me to follow my own advice, and simply (and completely) give up on the possibility of finding another life partner like yourself. This morning, on the other hand, I find myself considering just how much better off I am, now that I have determined I am not capable I’ve taken care of certain things around the house, I’m leaving them in the hands of people more expert than I.

I mentioned the shower stall in passing the other day, but I hadn’t taken a picture of it to show just how clean it’s gotten. But this is virtually the first site that I see in the morning, leaving me to wonder why I didn’t ask for help on these things sooner:

You literally can’t see the texture bumps in this photo, which for nearly twenty years have been obvious due to discoloration. I do not know how Kris got all that grime up – and that’s the point.

And of course, there’s been all that pictorial evidence of just how much room there is in the house now that Jan has come through and help me declutter. You could flip through so many of these letters that have been tagged with the word ‘cleaning,’ and see where we’ve been, and where we’ve gotten. All of which would never have been done if I relied on myself alone to accomplish it.

But it all starts with making that admission, to confront the fact that I couldn’t do it alone, and to ask for help. I honestly don’t know if it was something you couldn’t do, or simply wouldn’t do. I know how much certain things meant to you; there have been a vast number of things that I’ve painted me greatly to part with myself. But unless I did that, I would find myself picking my way through those narrow passages between great piles of stuff for the rest of my days.

Now, to be fair, I think we did surrender a bit, only not in a good way. After all, what Jan is doing for and with me is an intense, deep, and more or less one-time thing. Once the rooms are emptied, and certain more picayune issues are dealt with (such as the greeting cards and jewelry box), I imagine that her work with me will be more or less done. I may be wrong about that, but that’s the impression I get. On the other hand, once the house is finally cleaned, it still needs to be maintained. And that was what we surrendered on so long ago. We came to the conclusion that it was a waste of time to pick up, because the house would just get dirty and cluttered all over again – and in amazingly short order. So why bother?

I also suspect that this was another thing that you couldn’t ask for help on. After all, this is something that, as a homemaker, you were supposed to be able to do on your own (at least, according to society). To admit otherwise would be to acknowledge failing on your part, which I think you were loathe with to do. Look, I hardly blame you for that. If I, for instance, hadn’t been able to keep our checkbook balanced or our taxes filed and paid back in the day, I’d be pretty embarrassed myself (although these days, I have actually surrendered my role as tax preparer for the family, given the complexity of your family’s estate; I may take it back once things have been simplified – and I am trying to simplify our finances – but that’s not likely to happen in the near future). And perhaps it’s because I’m not societally expected, as a male and a (sudden) bachelor, to know how to keep house, that I don’t feel the same embarrassment in enlisting help towards taking care of the place.

And that’s the thing: in order to make any progress, we would’ve had to set aside any embarrassment or shame that would come of acknowledging our own failures, and ask for help. I’m not sure how it is that I can do this, but it is getting done.

There’s probably a parable in here somewhere…

Of course, it may well be that the analogy breaks down at some point; all analogies do eventually. I’ve been so pleased – if not overjoyed – at the progress being made in the house, that I have also begun considering enlisting a landscaping service.

I mean, you can’t leave the house anymore without running into that bush. I know you used to trim it back from time to time, but that’s not something I’m either good at or enjoy.
And while the ivy looks good on the wall, giving the place a Wrigley Field vibe, I’ve been told it makes breaks in the walls where ants and bugs and other vermin could get in. I know you contracted with a pest control service shortly before your departure, but there’s no real point in giving them something that specific to work on.
The front of the house has even more ivy, not to mention that fallen tree…
…and I’m pretty sure most of that growth between the grass and the cherry tree are weeds of one kind or another.

On the other hand, despite the fact that I do not enjoy the task, I’m still young and healthy and strong enough that I probably should continue to get in the exercise of mowing the lawn like I always have.

Not to mention, there’s a question of whether your typical service would even be able to get their wide lawnmowers in through that backyard gate.

And so the debate rages…

And of course, there’s always the fact that, each of these issues are resolved by enlisting the help of other humans. Others who were put in my path by divine providence, perhaps, but other humans nonetheless. People with skill and drive that I freely admit I don’t have.

How would this translate, say, to my pursuit of Megumi, or whether I should even look for her (or whether she even exists)? Yeah, this is where things get murky.

Of course, maybe the best course of action for now is to simply work on the things that I can (with the assistance of those who can help me, naturally), and set this more difficult issue to the side for the time being. Such a search would only distract me from the things that I actually can accomplish.

First, ·finish your outside work [execute/establish your affairs in public] and prepare your fields.
After that, you can build your house.

Proverbs 24:27, Expanded Bible

As always, honey, wish me luck.

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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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