Dearest Rachel –

I don’t know if you remember it, but even before we were separated, I recall looking at websites that offered to create a custom dakimakura, or body pillow. You know the type I’m talking about; there’s always at least one or two vendors in every anime convention dealer room hawking these things.

What's a Dakimakura? - Good Night's Rest

Of course, the ones available for sale would be of familiar characters from popular anime series. I admit that none of them particularly captured my interest. But I will confess to considering having a character created in your likeness at various points in time; as I recall, I was considering creating animesque avatars for the YouTube channel I had hoped to bring to life for all five of us (yes, that would include Erin and Ellen, as each of them had stories to tell, and were every bit – if not more so – as camera-shy as either you or I).

The irony is, I don’t think I’ve been looking into the concept since you’ve been gone, which seems a little counterintuitive. You would think that I would want to hold onto some form of you that much more so now that you’re actually gone. And while that’s quite true in theory, it’s more a matter of not thinking enough about it to actually go searching for someone who would put something like this together for me.

You might recall that at one point, I was trying to reach out to various artists and commission them to create an anime style portrait of you in your memory. Thus far, that hasn’t panned out very well, however. Most artists for whom I have gathered business cards from are not currently taking commissions (many of them, it seems, have quite the backlog to take care of), which kind of begs the question as to why they were would be offering business cards at places like AnimeIowa if they were not interested in taking additional commissions at the time. But no matter.

There was one artist in particular who actually responded to my inquiries, who specialized in pinup-style portraiture. And while I imagine you best as a Haibane (a character that doesn’t lend itself well to Rule 34 interpretation – although the rule, being a rule, must mean that such risqué images must exist somewhere out there), I was quite happy to arrange for such an image to be created of you, as I have so little in the way of pictures of you in any sultry, come-hither type pose. Those sort of interactions between us were never committed to film or photo, after all, being for each other alone, leaving me to sorely regret that lack of documentation.

The key difficulty came in how to contact him, as his business card did not include an email address, but merely contact points on Twitter, Instagram… and Facebook. I did try through Twitter, but it was through Facebook that I actually got him to respond. That, however, posed a whole different problem, as he thought he was responding to you, since it was your Facebook account, after all. I didn’t explicitly disabuse him of this notion, although when we did shift to emails (so that I could send images of you from various angles, and he could send example poses to serve as a basis for the finished work), I used my own account, based upon my real name. Eventually, he came to the realization that he was not dealing with you, but rather me; and more to the point, that you had passed away, as I had put a memorial post on your timeline indicating your passing last January. It was at this point that he contacted me to let me know that he could not, in good conscience, create such a picture without your consent. And since you were no longer available to give that consent, we were no longer to do business with each other.

I suppose it’s to his credit that he did make an effort to refund my deposit; however, he might as well have kept it, as the funds never returned to either of my bank accounts. It’s possible that I may still have a credit with PayPal, but considering how little I use that service, I might as well consider that money lost.

And so thus ended my one most serious attempt to capture you in anime form. Every other attempt has so far ended in ethereal silence; even those for which you’d think permission to depict you wouldn’t necessarily require your consent. To be sure, it may very well be that the better artists have a fairly long queue of commissions to deal with, but in the economic environment we’re still slogging through, you wouldn’t expect them to be turning away (or at least ignoring) requests. Anyway, as a result, I haven’t really bothered to pursue the matter for the past few months.

But sometimes, in the dark emptiness of the night, I wonder.

You’d probably think this would be a strange thing for me to consider; it isn’t as if you ever enjoyed being held while you slept, and my standard position of sleeping on my back isn’t really conducive to holding onto anything.

It’s just that… I wish I had more of you to hold onto. You understand; Erin once told me that, on one of those women’s Bible study retreats, you two had shared a hotel room, and you had shown her a stuffed animal that you kept with you to serve as a substitute for myself. She couldn’t recall which of your many stuffed animals it was, however; I’m going to assume it was Kevin the koala, but I don’t know. It was just something to hug when I wasn’t available. So I think you would appreciate the fact that I might want something similar, as out of character as it might be for me to do so.

There’s no question that, no matter how I might try, it would be a rather poor substitute regardless. But what can I do, when the real thing is no longer available?

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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