Dearest Rachel –

You’ll remember that, on thanksgivings at the folks’ place, we would offer a handful of things we were thankful for during the year. Well, it seems that Luke has assigned as homework along those sort of lines; before we roll out of bed in the morning, we are to come up with a list of ten things we are grateful for.

This is not ideal timing or something like this. This year has probably been one of the worst ones I have ever experienced, and I really don’t have to explain why, do I? At the same time, I know I have accomplished things I never thought I could, and I probably should incorporate that in the list. Which I should probably just build now.

  1. I am grateful for the allegory that is my life. I was an unwanted child, conceived by accident, but before the time in which I would’ve been disposed of as some sort of parasitic tissue. I am grateful that my biological mother put me up for adoption, leading to…
  2. I am grateful for the couple who sought to adopt me, and make me their own son, without any blood connection or any reason to want to raise me, other than the thwarted desire to have a child. I am grateful for all the trouble that they went through, both to adopt me, and to raise me (and my sister) in a Christian home.
  3. I am grateful for the education system that I went through; even when my elementary school teacher claimed I had psychological problems, and my parents called me from public school and placed me – at their expense, needless to say – in a Lutheran school. In this way, I maintained a religious upbringing, while also challenging my beliefs as an Evangelical, and theirs. I am also grateful that the teachers there were willing to listen and put up with a snot-nosed know-it-all kid who challenged the Lutheran belief system even as I learned it.
  4. I’m grateful for the biblical education I received in my own church that allowed me to issue such challenges; Dad always tells me about how the pastors and principal at the school acknowledged that Jenn and I knew our Bibles in a way that would put the other kids to shame, for the most part. Between a thorough grounding in Sunday school and Awana (to say nothing of the research I did after the Jonestown incident), we knew our stuff.
  5. I’m grateful for all the little ways that you and I were brought together at university; I am so glad you didn’t react the way I thought you would and write me off for saying that you were the one I would have most wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
  6. I’m grateful for the twenty-eight years that we had together. Of course I wish there were more, but we were truly happy together. And as Prince Humperdinck said, not one couple in a century gets that, no matter what the fairy tales say. Sure, we had our differences, but we managed to deal with those without fighting about it – even if that may have meant sweeping some things under the rug, sometimes literally.
  7. I am grateful for Daniel, despite our current differences. He is the child we didn’t think we wanted – and had no idea how to raise – me less so than you. But he is every bit as much a gift from God as you were.
  8. I am grateful for the material blessings that we have received. Even my job, as awful as it could be, helped put food on the table, and allowed you to be a stay at home mom. We even managed to impress your folks by keeping up with the mortgage payments – they set such a low bar for us. And of course, the fact that I was able to retire and spend these last two years with you before you left. How awful it would’ve been had I still been working, beaten down as I was, and complaining to you all the time. And then suddenly to be without you, without that kind of financial support.
  9. I am grateful for our community that is surrounded Daniel and me, supporting us as we deal with your loss. I’m especially grateful for Jan, who’s helped me clear out the house, so we can now begin remodeling and making everything new.
  10. Finally, and most importantly, I’m grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus made to allow us to become his children, and the fact that both of us (and Daniel in turn) I’ve taken up his offer, so this is not the end of us, but merely the end of the beginning. Someday soon we will have eternity together, and I am so grateful for that.

There, that’s finished. I know there’s probably more things I could think of, but I think that it’s the highlights. I’ll wager Luke and the others will get more than they bargained for from me in the morning, thanks to this.

It’s probably too much information, but you need the backstory in order to understand why I should be grateful, even him losing you.

I love you, honey, and I always will. God has blessed us, and He will continue to bless us going forward.

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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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