A Little Piece of You

Dearest Rachel –

Good friends will help you move;
Great friends will help you move bodies.

I suppose this means that my sister Jenn and Lars could be considered to be great friends.

Now Jenn, as counterintuitive as it might be, should not come as any great surprise. Yes, as siblings, we were – and are still, from time to time – on each other’s nerves and at each other’s throats. To be honest, I think it’s part of the job description. There will always be an antagonistic aspect of this sort of relationship, no matter how close you are (indeed, I would almost expect that the coast you are, the more the potential conflict between the two of you – like hedgehogs trying to hug each other. Consider a pair of sisters, who would have many more things in common with each other, and yet be so much in conflict that it’s considered a fairly standard literary trope). But when the chips are down, and it’s the two of us against the world, we have each other’s back. It’s not something that you (or Daniel), being an only child, could be expected to understand.

Lars, by contrast, is an interesting character. You’ll recall that he stood up as a groomsman at our wedding, but for a very long time, he’d been literally distant from our lives, working at hospitals both deep in the city proper and farther out in the state than to be reasonably expected to be a consistent part of our community and friend circle. He did, however, maintain a rather close (if somewhat long-distance) relationship with my folks, and as Dad has been dealing with some serious health issues since early 2018, his knowledge and wisdom has been invaluable to them. He stops over at their house on a regular, if relatively infrequent basis, and has also made an effort to reconnect with me since my retirement – an effort that has ironically been facilitated by my newly single status.

In any event, these were the two that ultimately helped me bring you home from Wisconsin, after what organs that could be harvested from you had been, and the rest of you had been reduced to ash, according to your wishes. It wasn’t the same as helping me dispose of your body, exactly, but it’s as near as it gets for now – someday, honey, I promise that Ellen, Erin and I will take care of that matter, as soon as we can make the appropriate arrangements.

It was Lars who pointed out that, for all that the ashes in your urn used to be a part of you, that they were not you – or at least, no longer you – and should be understood as such. You are not there within that urn, like a genie in a bottle, more’s the pity. Would that I could polish the brushed aluminum, and have you appear from within in a cloud of purple smoke. I’ll tell you right now, if that were possible, I wouldn’t have any need for whatever wishes you might otherwise be able to grant; your mere presence would be quite sufficient for me. But I’m forced to resign myself with the fact that these little crumbs of carbon are no more you than that jar full of fireplace ash that I took with us to the island back in 2017 to practice with (and very nearly hit my head slipping on a rock on the edge of the water; I remember telling Daniel, after picking myself off and rubbing my bruised knee, that “this is why we rehearse beforehand, son,” as I expected him to take care of this duty when you time came, since I assumed I would be gone when it would need to be performed).

On the other hand… these little crumbs of carbon can be turned into something more.

And so, this afternoon, I’ve been on the phone with a representative of a company that claims to be able to take your ashes and turn them into a diamond. Don’t worry – there will still be enough more than enough ash left to pour into Schoolhouse Bay when that day we’re available to do so arrives – it only takes half a cup of your ashes to do this. What’s more, that half cup can apparently be grown into any size diamond I wish; it’s only a question of how much time I let them take, and how much money I’m willing to spend (for example, a colorless single carat stone would cost about three times that of your urn – I don’t know how that compares to a casket and burial site, however). They even offer various colors of diamonds (some of which are actually cheaper than the standard colorless, if you can believe that), although they acknowledge that purple cannot be reliably created. It’s likely that I’ll need to get in touch with the jewelers here in town, and create a setting that might include amethyst, tanzanite and/or iolite accents. From there, I can determine the size and cut I would ask them to grow and create as a centerpiece for the arrangement.

I had, at first, considered having my ear pierced in order to wear your diamond permanently, in line with the tradition of a Hebrew slave. Jenn, however, suggested that I not try this; I’m not sure if she thought I’d be too old for the procedure, or that it would just look silly on me, but she’s probably right that I would not take proper care of the piercing. Besides, you never had your ears pierced; I doubt you’d necessarily be appreciative of my doing so in your alleged honor.

So presumably, it will be a ring for me to wear on my right hand (as opposed to the left, which is the traditional place for a wedding band – who knows? I may yet need that ring finger available) from whenever the growth, cutting and setting processes are taken care of, until I am set down for my final rest with you. I know it’s not something you considered, but I’d like to think you’d appreciate the idea of keeping a little bit of you with me going forward.

Besides, it solves the whole dilemma of whether Daniel will one day need or want a place to grieve for you; wherever I am – or will be – there will be a little part of you there as well. Problem solved – or at least, we’ll have a stopgap until all of us are reunited at last.

Until then, honey, keep an eye out for us, and wish us luck; we always need it.

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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