Dearest Rachel –
You would think that, because I’m writing you every day, I’d be constantly marinating my soul in the sensation of having lost you. Even as I’m chatting with others – even with possible candidates to fill the empty spot in our house and lives – when they ask what I do, I have to mention the fact that I write to you on a daily basis, and that it takes time each day to find something to say to you, and to put it into words. Your absence defines me in a certain way, when all is said and done.
Looked at dispassionately, you might expect one of two very different outcomes: Either I am dealing with it every day, and constantly picking at the wound, or I’m inuring myself to my own sense of loss in the process of addressing you every day.
I always assumed it was the former, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m not completely mistaken. Last week, before the kids arrived for Sparks, the leaders assembled (as we always do, for specific instructions and planning for the night’s activities), and it was announced that, in your honor, everyone was to wear purple next week in your honor. Nothing would be said to the kids about it – after all, the new ones wouldn’t even know about you, and explaining the whole situation to any of them would be opening a can of worms – but we would all know why.
It took me by surprise, honey. And in that moment, it tore again at my heartstrings, and it was all I could do to not fall apart while the others prayed for the night’s activities.
Thankfully, the theme for the night was that everyone would show up in pajamas (I wore my terry-cloth robe, for instance) and watch a movie. So I could stay out of sight from everyone, and work on assembling awards while the kids watched the VeggieTales movie
As it so happens, the theme for tonight was Emergency Room night; it’s the same one that you announced last year just before the accident. So, ironically, the last time some of these kids saw you, you were on crutches to let them know what to bring the following session. Although I can’t remember if it was called off last year because of what happened. I do recall that last year, we were meeting every other week because of the Covid protocols at the time, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we switched themes because it would be in poor taste given the circumstances.
But that was a year ago; a long, chaotic, tumultuous year. If I forget things that happened that long ago, I’d like to think I could be forgiven for it. There were other things on my mind at that time.
At any rate, I didn’t have much I could bring to address either theme. We’d given away your crutches, and thrown out those old ace bandages, so the ‘Emergency Room’ theme was a nonstarter for Daniel and I. And as for purple, I have but one shirt that would fit the bill…
Since I had drawn the restaurant’s name on our shirts in paint, we didn’t wear them often; only on her first day at anime conventions (where people
would might recognize it). After all, washing them was a bit difficult, what with the paint and all. But for the sake of representing you – because so many others were going to – I figured I might as well wear it.
The weird thing is, partly because of my absence due to the Grief Share group during the first half of the school year, and the fact that I long ago learned that I couldn’t relate and lead kids at this age, I really don’t have a niche in Sparks this year. Since returning, I spend most of the evening holed up in the supply room, assembling awards as needed – which, I hate to say, isn’t nearly as much as it used to be in pre-pandemic days, but we’re getting there, I suppose.
It’s probably just as well. Like with the mention of you on Sunday, and the calls for prayer and support from the platform, it does sort of sting a bit. I know everyone means perfectly well – and I appreciate the fact that your memory is treasured by everyone at church, in ways that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else’s treated in my life – but it is a loud reminder that you are well and truly gone.
You’d think I’d be used to that, since I wake up in an empty bed, wander around a quiet house, and I still have your cell number in my speed dial, which only goes to your chirpy voice – “Hi! We can’t come to the phone right now…” – and promises to call back, but never does. I can’t explain it, honey; the fact that others mourn your loss – or at least, remember you so fondly – maybe because I’m not always aware of it, when it’s brought to my attention like this, I feel it that much more acutely, as opposed to the chronic ache of your absence in my own life, which has evidently become something of an omnipresent background noise, and thus, easier to ignore. Seeing all the leaders with purple shirts under their bandages, or purple ribbons in their hair, to honor you, is a different, more sudden, sensation.
I don’t know if that explains it well, and I don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining. I’m proud to report to you about how much you were loved and admired by everyone.
It’s just that… it reminds me of how I wish I didn’t have to; or at least, that I could do so in person. Although, if you were here in person, they wouldn’t be doing it, now, would they?
I’ll talk to you later, honey. Keep an eye out for me and Daniel in the meantime.