“With,” Not “To”

Dearest Rachel –

When we were ‘courting,’ for lack of a better term (it wasn’t quite dating, when you were at college and I was working some 150 miles away), we would send music back and forth to each other. It was a way of keeping in touch, sending each other messages that some lyricist said better than we could, as well as getting each of us used to the other’s musical taste.

Among the many plans I had for the YouTube channel I’d considered assembling, I had plans to go through all of the music we sent each other, and explain the meaning behind each song. And while you weren’t as enthusiastic about participating in the channel as the girls were (and even they were nowhere near my level of gung-ho toward it), you seemed willing to consider it. Of course, circumstances intervened; first, the church and the camp needed my old professional skills, requiring me to set aside any of my dreams of learning art and animation for the sake of attempting to broadcast my solutions to life to the younger generations. Then, on a much more global scale, the lockdowns started – the ‘defining tragedy’ for those of GenZ that rendered any assertions I would have had comparing them to previous generations obsolete. And finally, your accident made me realize how I don’t have nearly all the answers, after all. So most of those plans are now pretty much out the window without ever having gotten started upon.

But I still have all that music of ours, and I still want to go over some of it with you at some point, because some of those songs carry a great deal of weight, both in my memory and in their meaning. Like this one:

I was reminded of this particular song at last night’s Grief Share meeting, as we were discussing the fact that we run the risk of getting stuck in our grief if we hold onto certain attitudes regarding the person we’ve lost. To be fair, no one’s likely to accuse me of being in that position for quite some time; grieving takes time, after all, and while there’s no true “normal” amount of time, I’m well within tolerable limits, and shall be for at least another year, most likely. If anything, I worry that I’m trying to move on too fast.

But that’s neither here nor there. No matter if I’m stuck on you or not, one of the things touched upon was that it’s an unhealthy attitude to have when we consider our loved one as a possession, something (or rather, someone) that belongs to us, that has been stolen from us by God or circumstance or what have you. To borrow from your beloved Doctor Who, I don’t have the right to go all Sharaz Jek over you:

The Watch-A-Thon of Rassilon — Sharaz Jek in the Classic Doctor Who serial  The...
She has been TAKEN from me!!

Not that he had the right to, either; he was a villain, after all, however sympathetic, given his backstory. Heck, you might remember me dressing up as him when I visited you over one Homecoming late in October after we realized we might make a go of it as a couple some day. But I never thought like him, that you belonged to me.

And that’s where this song comes in. I think, in my letter to you accompanying this particular mix tape, I made a point of spelling out that the title was “You Belong With Me,” not to me. From what you’ve told me, that came in handy once you listened to it, as your dad got a little angry at me about it (as he too was mishearing the lyrics), and you had to tell the same thing to him in turn.

Overprotective dads, amirite?

No one has any right to any other person; people aren’t possessions, after all. And even possessions don’t last forever, come to that. We’re allowed to enjoy each other’s company, and all that that entails for however long God decides. And we were happy together (yeah, that’s another song, one that you sent me – like I said, I want to get to them all eventually, I hope) for all the time we had. We held onto each other as tightly as we could, but I couldn’t keep you from going down that hill.

So I have to treasure those memories as best I can. At least they belong to me.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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