Fifty-Two Weeks Ago (part two)

Dearest Rachel –

I’m not going to go so far as to give Mike credit for remembering; he juggles dozens of volunteers across three campuses, and all of their attendant schedules. I’m sure he’s just slotted me where and when he needed me to be, especially after giving me an extended break after working all the services between Christmas Eve through the Sunday after New Year’s. But it’s certainly true that keeping me busy in the booth is just the sort of thing to keep my mind off of the fact that this is the anniversary of our parting.

Fifty-two weeks ago, Daniel and I were standing in the front left corner of the auditorium during the early service. No one expected us to be there, but there we were. Even now, I’m surprised we made it to the early service – I had been up until three, talking to the organ bank about your medical history, and what, if anything, of yours would be useable for another patient. To this day, I don’t know which of your organs were actually used. I do have a couple of certificates, signed by the governor of Wisconsin, thanking you for your contribution, so I’m pretty sure that you helped save two people somehow. It would be rather amusing if, in one case, your skin had been grafted onto someone else, considering that you’d benefited from a skin graft after your bicycle was struck by a car back in 1998; you’d be paying that back after getting 23 years of use out of your own transplant.

Our presence in church that morning isn’t meant to be considered to our credit, however (nor is the fact that Daniel, ironically, unable to be here today – between the cold, the snow and the weeks of inactivity, your car just decided not to start – to be held against him). I’ve said it a number of times since the accident; if I couldn’t stand before God and praise Him after that moment, when the two of us had been trapped ‘in the lowest valley,’ as the song says, then I have no right to do so at any other point in my life. I’m sure that a part of it was sheer force of habit, but that at least is just another aspect of having been “train[ed] up… in the way [I] should go,” and not departing from it, even at a point at which some people might have. But if they were to give up on God for taking the love of their life away, where would they go from there, and what could they find to fix their problem?

No, the only option is to be thankful for the time we had, and look forward to the time we will have again some day. Our relationship will be different then, I suppose – and even Pastor Scott told me that you had asked about that very subject not two weeks previously – but at least we will be there together, and we can work out the details when that eternal day comes. Until then, I have to remain grateful that our reunion is not only a possibility, but a certainty, much like the day I was freed from the burdens of my working life. It’s just a matter of waiting it out until that day comes around, and hopefully making myself useful in the remaining time given to me.

Last week, among the many vignettes of dreams I went through (including one where I was still trying to make some calculations for my old job – it wasn’t until I woke up that I remembered I no longer worked there, and had no need to let Mohinder know I wasn’t going to be in the following day with the figures he wanted), there was one where you woke up beside me, telling me to wait until you were done washing your hair – as you would do that in cold water, to keep the purple dye from running – before joining you. You were treating this as any other Sunday morning, except that you still thought it was January 24, 2021, rather than January 23, 2022. You were completely unaware of the time that had passed, and the events that had transpired, and were just going about your – our – normal Sunday morning routine.

Except that routine had been broken a long time ago by your accident, which you seemed to be completely unaware of. The dream faded, and I woke up long before you figured out what the situation was. It would’ve been quite the story for you to realize everything that it happened, and all the changes that had been made in this relatively short amount of time. I can picture you going through your closet and only finding my clothes in it, and getting upset about it, before being shown the urn, and the certificate, and maybe even the picture from the medical examiner. Our lives would turn into a situation comedy, as we would try to reacclimate you into society, a society that declared you dead a year ago.

What I wouldn’t give for that to happen. Even running about trying to find you some new clothes would be well worth it. Even dealing with your irritation at my having given away all your old clothes would be worth it. I’m sure we could manage, somehow.

But that’s not how things work. Some things are just irreversible, and I know full well that you wouldn’t want to have to come back here to earth at this point, in any event. Who could blame you, after having spent time in heaven?

I wonder how much time has passed, by your perception: a day? A week? Does it feel like a year to you, in a paradise where there is neither night nor darkness? I couldn’t begin to guess. For what it’s worth, the year down here has taken nearly forever. Sure, there’s been a lot to write about, but it makes me regret not having recorded the days we had together.

But how was I to know that we would run out of days so soon?

I thought our days were commonplace
Thought they’d number in the millions

Mark Heard, “Treasure of the Broken Land,” from Satellite Sky (1991)

I’ve crunched the numbers; just one million days would take one back to some seven hundred years before Jesus walked the earth. Our days may seem common, but they’re not quite as dime-a-dozen as we tend to think of them. Even the ‘lucky’ ones like your parents barely clear thirty thousand in their lifetimes. So I probably shouldn’t have been as cavalier with our time as I was. But it’s too late now.

At least some day, we’ll have millions, even billions of days together, and even then, we’ll have barely have scratched the surface of eternity. Oh, for that day to come!

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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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