Dearest Rachel –
When I was a little kid, I really wasn’t much for roller coasters. The idea of being spun around and inverted at those dizzying speeds, suspended at heights that, were I to fall from, would undoubtedly kill me (and that was merely the drop itself; never mind the metal mechanisms and track below that I might well land on), did not appeal to me. I would, since Dad was encouraging me, go on some that didn’t have inversions, but even then…
I do remember one such ride back when I was a little kid. There was this place called Santa’s Village out in the far northwestern suburbs, and there was this coaster that was in what I believe is referred to as the “wild mouse” style. As I try to remember it, I think the reason it gets its name is from the vertical tunnel in which the car is sent going straight up at the beginning. Said tunnel had little circular windows to look out over the park while the chain ratcheted and clanked as it pulled the car up; from the outside, it looked like a tall thin log of Swiss cheese.
I sat in my dad’s lap; his head nearly touching the roof of the cab of the car, while I fretted internally that the chains were not sufficient to pull us to the top of the tower. These fears were not ameliorated by the fact that, as we approached the top of the tower, a new car was sent into the tower, ascending behind us. Were the chains not to hold, we would go crashing backwards into this other car, possibly killing us and those in the trailing car.
Yes, I was a worrywart as a kid. What of it?
Of course, the chains never snapped. The car shook on its way up as if it would, but the chains held every time, and the car would write itself at the top, and proceed on its downward trek, making tight circles around the tower that it had emerged from, gaining momentum on its way down, but probably no more than if you were in a vehicle pushing your luck by speeding on a suburban side street.
The ride down was fun, but I could never make up my mind as to whether it was worth the fear of the ascent. The anticipation of what was to come – whether good or bad – was tempered by my wondering if the chains would hold.
Such has been my life since you left me, my darling. Your departure was sudden and abrupt, but everything since then has had a build up, giving me time to fret about what I might face as each process made its way to its culmination, and all the while I sit there, waiting for it to be over with… and wondering if the chains will hold.
Consider the following, some of which have resolved themselves, and some of which… haven’t:
- Almost from the start, there has been the concern about Chompers, and how likely he is to make it from one day to the next. At fifteen, he hasn’t much time left in him, and yet somehow he perseveres. At recently as last night, Ellen admitted that he isn’t particularly miserable yet – despite his frailties and ever-increasing slowness and lassitude, he hasn’t given up on life just yet, despite the fact that none of us expected him to still be here at this point in the year, least of all while missing you so. But the day will come when he has to go, and probably sooner rather than later.
- I’ve also had to deal with health issues of my own, thanks to having made appointments just prior to your accident. Some I canceled (with all that’s been going on, who needs a stress test? I’ve had more than enough from real life, thank you very much. Besides, I seem to have dropped the worst of those pandemic pounds on my own), others, several years overdue already, I felt compelled to keep. As I told you, the anticipation was probably worse than the actual event – not that it was at all fun, and I do find myself wondering why I’m making the effort to stay healthy when it seems there’s no one to stay healthy for at this point.
- There’s also the question of whether I should submit myself to therapy. Curiously, I managed to track down my old girlfriend Chris, who is a certified specialist in the subject, complete with a Ph.D. and a lost partner, so she’s had experience as therapist and patient. She has encouraged me forward into such an endeavor, although I’m still somewhat reluctant. If nothing else, it feels like the cleanup process is a measure of therapy in and of itself, offering a fair amount of catharsis as old memories are unearthed as we go along. Which of course, leads into…
- How you’ll recall my trepidation regarding the cleanup process itself. It’s been truly terrifying to realize how much I have had to get rid of over the past six months, and we’re still not quite done with it yet. Not to mention, I now need to get myself into the habit of keeping the place clean and tidy going forward, which runs into conflict with…
- The fact that we’re finally going through with plans to remodel the kitchen and the bathroom (although the carpet in the sunroom, dining room and family room will have to wait until Chompers’ passing), all of which is going to make a tremendous mess once everything that had been ordered arrives and the contractors set to work. At least, this isn’t about to be an issue until April or May of next year, but of course that leaves me just waiting for everything to come together and the construction to begin – and more importantly, end.
- And the newest item on the docket, the idea of getting out into the dating scene… via online apps. Just reading the safety tips of dos and don’ts is a little intimidating. I’d ask if I’m ready for this, but I’m sure the answer – like the one I would have given for any of the other items above when I got the ball rolling on any of them – would be “absolutely not!”
But life doesn’t ask if you’re ready. You weren’t asked if you were ready to go Home when that sno-tube sent you into that tree. Life just comes at you, and it comes at you fast. That’s how things are. So I’ve just got to hang on for dear life, make sure my safety harness is fastened securely… and pray that the chains hold on as they pull me along to these vertiginous heights.
As always, darling, wish me luck. You know full well I’m going to need it.