Love & Marriage

Dearest Rachel –

Happy Sweetest Day, honey.

It’s weird; we never observed this holiday together. We considered ourselves fortunate enough to remember Valentine’s Day and our anniversary for each other.

So why am I bothering now, seeing as I don’t have any sweetest to make a day out of this? Well, since the anniversary of this event came and went, and I was preoccupied with other stories, I figured this would be as good a day as any to share this one more memory that we have on video.

Now you know the whole story, but I might as well set the background for anybody else who might see this letter. This was 2017, the year we had taken Mom and Dad to the island to show them the place you considered your favorite place on earth, the place you wanted your ashes scattered one day. Dad raised the objection that Daniel would have no place to go to grieve for you if you had no burial place, no headstone, no monument, and you were determined to show him why the island was superior to any grave or cemetery. I’m not about to say that they were convinced, but I did understand why you loved the place so well.

Now I know none of this seems germane to the attached video, but it’s important to know how everything came together. You see, they had planned to give us a vacation as part of our 25th anniversary. And you were thinking that this would be another week on the island. When it turned out to be a Caribbean cruise, you were actually disappointed. And you weren’t subtle about it, which dismayed Dad in particular. I felt like I had to calm both of you down, and let him know that yes, we were delighted with their gift.

For what it’s worth, I knew how much you wanted to go back to the island; I just didn’t have that kind of vacation time (and there was no way we would have been able to reserve the cottage a second time at such short notice). And while your disappointment wasn’t all that much of a surprise to me, the depth of it in that first moment caught me off guard.

But be honest, honey, we enjoyed the trip regardless. And while they didn’t have a blob at Coco Cay, we certainly made do.

It’s not exactly a video, but it catches the main portion of the action, no?

After leaving the last port, there was a formal night, which we dressed up for. We even had photographs taken (as per mom and dad’s request – they wanted a souvenir from this trip)

And a good thing, too, I suppose, as this is one of the photographs that we had taken on that cruise. It’s as fitting a picture as we had to serve for your memorial service.

The Love & Marriage Show was later on in the evening; you can tell from the fact that you’re still wearing the dress in the photo. But I’m a bit more rumpled, as you can tell.

And of course, there’s a story behind that, too.

You see, there’s a very specific way they choose who goes on stage for this game show. They pick the newest newlyweds, and the oldest married couple (who usually wins, by the way; really, it stands to reason, given how well they know each other), but the middle couple is something of a cattle call.

We were up against seven other couples, in a little bit of a popularity contest. Each of us had to show how much we love each other by doing a Tarzan-and-Jane routine, and the rest of the audience would pick their favorite couple by acclamation. You did your best perils-of-Pauline, Juliet-on-the-balcony routine, calling out “oh, Tarzan, where are you?!” And as for myself, since I was the most overdressed fellow auditioning, I served up the largest slice of ham that I could, ripping off my tie and flinging off my sport jacket before doing a fairly reasonable cry of the bull ape, before bending you nearly double in an over-the-top French kiss.

Needless to say, the audience picked us. And considering this was our anniversary, I thought it was most appropriate in any event. But I still think it’s a shame that the show didn’t include the audition.

To be sure (and I should’ve mentioned it sooner – someone’s probably already watched this that shouldn’t have), the topics aren’t necessarily suitable for all audiences; there’s a reason it was held at (I think) 10 p.m. Still, they did air it during the day on one of their on-ship networks, so maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. I only know this because people came up to me (and I assume they might’ve come up to you as well) the next day, telling me how cute a couple we made, and that we should’ve won.

Considering we tied with the older couple, having only missed one question each, the ship did actually send us a prize to our room and congratulations for our participation. I still have the bottle of Cook’s… and I have no idea what to do with it.

But here it is, just another reminder of our time together, and the kind of couple we made… and how much I miss it.

I really had hoped to try and do this again sometime – especially now that we could travel any time we wanted to. But at least, I have this moment to treasure.

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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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