Dearest Rachel –
Years before I met you – indeed, before I even graduated from high school (although after my relationship with Chris fell apart) – I had come up with a name for my hoped-for “someone,” much like I have done these past few months with the concept of “Megumi.” While I gave it the name a personal meaning of ‘she who is hoped for,’ I originally encountered it, oddly enough, as an Israeli man’s name – take from that what you will – which I discovered several years later to mean “lion of God.”
That name… was Ariel.
No, I didn’t get it from Disney. The Little Mermaid didn’t come out until I was a junior in college. When it did, Dena particularly enjoyed teasing me about it, occasionally calling me on the intercampus phone line, and when I would answer, singing that wordless theme wherein the character’s voice was stolen. In fairness, her voice could rival Jodi Benson’s. I don’t think that Dena ever thought of herself as my Ariel, But she found the pretense amusing. And hey, if she had the pipes, why not use ‘em?
The funny part is, as far as we were concerned, you referred to me by that name. When you use a coded name in our correspondence, you preferred to refer to yourself as Amanda, which you had taken from a YA novel written by, of all people, Julie Andrews (under her married name of Julie Edwards). For all your books that I cast off during the purge of the office upstairs, I kept that book, even though I do not expect to read it in the future. Just the fact that it meant that much to you makes it impossible to let go of.
Whether that meant I was your Ariel in terms of being the one you hoped for, or whether I was some godly lion (wouldn’t that have been Aslan?), I couldn’t say. We only had a few messages between us that used those names, so there’s not that much to read into, at least as far as I can tell.
Okay, this is starting to meander. Where am I going with this? Well, it’s like this…
Aside from Dena’s obsession for imitating Jodi’s singing voice, I have no particular emotional attachment to The Little Mermaid. The Disney Renaissance came too late for me to really appreciate as a wide-eyed child viewer. Yes, there was that time we went to Keokuk to watch Beauty and the Beast, but that’s a completely different story, to be told at a different time.
However, there is something particularly poignant about Ariel’s theme, especially in light of your departure, now exactly a half year ago.
I don’t know when, I don’t know how“Part of Your World” (reprise), from The Little Mermaid, Alan Menken & Howard Ashman
But I know something’s starting right now
Watch and you’ll see, someday I’ll be
Part of your world
I have told Jan a number of times that she’s not just cleaning and organizing the house. She is, for all intents and purposes, my therapist as I’m dealing with the fact that you’re no longer here. She has responded by claiming that I have improved markedly since you left. It wasn’t that long ago that anything I would pick up, I would burst into tears, telling her one story or another about how that item was precious to you, or part of our story. I have, as you know, found myself apologizing to you so many times for getting rid of this or that which you held onto so dearly, but that couldn’t be kept any longer. Now, I find myself able to throw out papers upon which you’ve written – granted, they are mostly homework from your math or computer science classes, which admittedly have none of your soul in them – with hardly a qualm. And I don’t know if this means it’s an improvement in my emotional resilience, or if I’m turning into a soulless monster.
And yet, there are still some of the stupidest things that continue to send me over the edge. Such as this little sponge that I found in Daniel’s room the other day.
There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it; no history behind it, and no expectation that I might ever bother to use it. There is no reason for me to keep it, and I will probably pack it with a bunch of other things to take to Goodwill soon enough.
But I hear her theme in my head when I see this. And I realize that, for just about thirty years all told, I was a part of your world, and you were a part of mine.
Only, no longer. Unlike the Disney story, this one doesn’t have a happy ending. Or maybe this is how things would’ve ended in Disney too, if they stretched the story out for another thirty or forty years. After all, every good marriage ends with one of us watching the other die.
But you’ve been reduced to sea foam now, to the point where one day, I will have to commit your ashes to the Lake you so dearly loved.
And all I can do… is to thank you.
You said ‘I do,’ I don’t know why
But nearly thirty years have gone by
You stayed with me; Glad you would be
Part of my world
Thank you… for being a part of my world. You could’ve said goodbye; it’s what I had assumed you would do all those years ago. But you didn’t.
And thank you also… for letting me be a part of yours.