Lord Polonius: What do you read, my lord?Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
Words, words, words!Eliza Doolittle, “Show Me.” from My Fair Lady, (1956)
I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through
First from him, now from you
Is that all you blighters can do?!
Dearest Rachel –
As a matter of fact, Miss Doolittle, yes. That is all I can do.
The fact of the matter is, nothing I say or do can change what has happened. All I can do is add words to the collective consciousness that makes up the internet, in hopes of ensuring that you are remembered. I can’t bring you back – and for all my pretensions, I can’t even communicate with you – but I can build this written monument to you.
So here it stands, like the fragments of broken statuary commemorating the mighty Ozymandius in Shelley’s great and empty desert. And every so often, I take a step back, look at what I’ve written you… and wonder if I, too, should despair of doing so.
It hasn’t even been a full year – indeed, the calendar year isn’t even out – and I’ve written (or to a certain extent, transcribed your words, although that makes up a fairly small proportion of what’s on this site) over half a million words to you. I never expected to get this far this fast, but I can’t seem to stop myself
But to what end? What purpose? Is this some form of therapy, where I express my feelings and frustration to the empty air of cyberspace, hoping that it might purge me of my grief and fear? Is it an attempt at entertaining the reader, allowing others to experience these emotions vicariously, rather than having to go through them on their own?
I had originally begun writing you as a way to bookend our relationship; this whole thing started with the letter I sent to you stating that, out of all the girls that I had met at college, the one I would most likely want to spend my life with (assuming that option were available to me) was you. You know what happened next, almost better than I do; I assumed you would be repulsed and creeped out, but you found it charming and endearing, and let me know if that option, improbable as it might seem, was in fact available to me.
From there, we wrote each other letters for the next year or so before making our engagement official, and ultimately becoming one – and remaining so for just shy of thirty years. It seemed appropriate that, since our relationship started with letters, it should end with them as well.
But I discovered along the way that is one thing to write love letters to someone who isn’t with you, but eventually will be with you, and entirely something else to write to someone who will never be with you again. Love letters, as a rule, touch on the present, but dwell on the future – talking about things that would be done if you were together, and will be done when you will be together.
The problem is that, we have no future together, at least not on this earth. And from what I understand of heaven, our relationship will not be as it was here, either. Certainly, there will be love in heaven, but of what sort? How different will our relationship between ourselves be between that of ourselves and anyone else up there? Jesus himself spoke of not being married nor given in marriage – where does that leave us? Pastor Scott, in the week between the accident and the funeral, actually told me that you asked him about that barely two weeks beforehand. I don’t recall what his answer was, assuming he had one.
And so at best, my letters to you can only dwell on the past, because that’s all I have of you. And I try to remember everything I can, because I know the time will come when those memories fade on me. Even now, as I try to make my way through my daily life, I worry about the fact that I don’t always remember what I’m supposed to be doing – I can’t keep my schedule straight, and I used to rely on you for that. I would have a better handle on my memories if you were still here, but if you were here, I wouldn’t be doing any of this in the first place.
And while cataloging my memories of you is a helpful, therapeutic thing (and I do want the Internet in large to know about you and who you were – how wonderful, how generous, how kind, how loving), I also know that I have a present and future to deal with. You died, but I lived, and I need to keep on living. It’s not healthy for me to spend the next twenty years or so in mourning. So I hope you’ll forgive me if most of the letters turn out to be something other than declarations of love for you, but rather updates about how I’m coping without you. The best I can do is to make these struggles interesting and relatable. Who knows? Maybe they can guide someone else through similar circumstances some day.
Until then, honey, I’m going to continue to keep you updated as to what’s happening. I love you, and miss you.