I Wish I Had Taken More Pictures

Dearest Rachel –

So, last night we met the girls for dinner. I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit of a fire drill; not gonna specify, either, because I’m not sure which nationality applies here – Chinese, Bavarian, or some other – and regardless, it’d probably be racist, or at least ethnist, to do so.

We did originally agreed to get together at Mitsuwa, and we all seemed to be enthusiastically looking forward to it; it has been ages since we were there last (although I think Daniel and I have been there with Pastor Scott since you left, so there’s that). I don’t know why it didn’t occur to any of us at any point in time, but it wasn’t until late yesterday afternoon that it crossed my mind that the place closes at seven o’clock – which would be about the time Ellen could get home from work at her job in Vernon Hills, tend to her cat, and get over to the house in order to head out. That place simply won’t work for us as a group, unless we decide to meet of a lunchtime, presumably on a Saturday or Sunday.

Guess we’ve been away from there for longer than I thought.

In any event, this left us scrambling for alternatives. Since Erin needed to nap beforehand – or go to bed shortly thereafter – I suggested a place nearer to her area, to make it more convenient for her. The boys, however, couldn’t seem to find anything on the menu there that interested either of them, and selected a place some distance west of here. I was hesitant, but she seemed to be reasonably satisfied with the choice, as there was another place nearby that she hadn’t been to. Basically, it would boil down to me and the boys getting food from one place, while she would get hers from another, and we’d all eat outside – which she would likely consider yet another win. Since Ellen would be running late, she would meet us there as well. So, only Kerstin showed up at the house to ride with the boys and myself to the restaurant. All of this was communicated fairly rapid fire through texts, which resulted in a bit of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it miscommunication. But I’ll get into that later.

When Kerstin arrived at the house, I showed her around past the plastic sheeting, and into the completely torn out rooms as they are so far. I informed her of the situation regarding the master bathroom, and how it will not be ripped out as part of the project, and she voiced her enthusiastic approval. Specifically, she related to me about how you loved that warm tile, and would lie on the floor and fall asleep in spite of yourself, most likely due to your body’s attempts to catch up with the sleep you missed out on the night before. It was her opinion that removing that tile at this point would be like taking away something that you treasured, and while I’ve done an awful lot of that already, there might as well be limits on how much can and should be removed. This is where you slept; let’s preserve it for now, at least.

It’s a charming picture to envision; I only wish I had pictures of you sleeping there.

But it was probably no more than a fairly commonplace occurrence when you were alive. When I was at work, and Daniel was at school, you could allow yourself to succumb to the exhaustion you insisted on fighting when we were around. And somehow you were comfortable letting Kerstin see your tired side, when you tried so desperately to stay awake and active for our sakes. All of which is probably one more reason why you would not have allowed a picture of you sleeping on the bathroom floor to exist, much as I might want to see it, especially as an aspect of your personality that I was not aware of – and would not be even to this day, had Kerstin not mentioned it to me.

Now this is slightly out of chronological order, but shortly before Kerstin arrived, a text arrived from Ellen, stating that she had gotten home, fed and given some loving to her cat, and was now on her way to the restaurant that Erin had picked out. With that having been said, we concluded that we ought to get a move on, go to the one nearby and place our carry out order in order to join up with her. What none of us considered was that while these messages were going back and forth between us, Erin was asleep and not seeing them.

So, we placed and collected our order, and drove around the building in order to meet up with Ellen, who was by herself. Not a complete surprise, as both she and Erin would be coming from various different directions, and therefore wouldn’t be expected to arrive at the same time. And for a few minutes, we pulled a few outdoor tables together and waited for Erin, not wishing to be rude and eat without her, until we started to grow concerned about our meals getting cold (Ellen, having brought a sandwich from work, didn’t have to worry about that. And before you ask, no, she didn’t eat the bread; she just ate all the ingredients straight off of the bread. It looked challenging, but she managed it).

We had almost finished everything when I spotted Erin approaching our table, having finally woken up and driven over – Kerstin had to call her to wake her up. I think we’ve decided that, next time, we need to wait until she wakes up before heading out to whatever destination we have in mind (assuming, of course, that we have one – this was an unusual circumstance, no matter how you look at it). Ironically, once she arrived, we are adjourned from the outdoor table to one inside the restaurant – so she missed out on eating al fresco, despite being the one who enjoys it the most (even in 40 degree weather like we were dealing with).

Lessons learned, I guess.

Anyway, we stayed until we were practically the last customers in the dining area – although, according to the sign on the door, the place was supposed to remain open for another hour. Still, Erin needed to get some more sleep before her shift after midnight. So, we all said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.

Of course, Kerstin went home with us, and a pun arriving at the house, went digging around in her car to get out a few things that she’d found while shopping recently. She offered me a pair of slippers, so I wouldn’t have to walk on the wood in my bare feet, and also showed off a stuffed animal that her daughter Ashley had spotted:

She told me I could take a picture of it, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. I wish I had now, but this is what it was. Do you recognize it? Because I didn’t.

She told me it was a pigeon (one with a very long neck, if you ask me); one whom you, the reader, are not supposed to allow to drive a bus.

No matter how much he begs.

It’s a character from a children’s picture book, ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,’ which you would read to Ashley Kerstin didn’t know how many times. Meanwhile, I’ve never heard of the story, although I can understand why, given that this is what Kerstin does for a living, this would be a book that featured prominently in her daughter’s childhood.

But apparently, she associated it with you as much as with her mom, because you would be the one to read it to her. It’s just another piece of your life I was unaware of, and wish I knew more about, now that you’re gone.

I guess I can be glad for having heard about it at the point, rather than being completely locked out of the loop. But still, there is so much I guess I never knew about. Maybe you thought of it as a little thing, not worth mentioning, and maybe it would have passed under my radar were you still with us. But the fact that it meant something to Ashley caused it to mean something to Kerstin, and now it means something to me in turn.

I just wish I’d known about it sooner.

I’d considered at this point about letting you know of a photo that was taken that I discovered this morning, but since it wasn’t taken by me, it probably isn’t relevant to today’s story. To be honest, it kind of amounts to a whole other can of worms entirely. For now, all I’m going to say is what I usually do at this point…

…Wish me luck, honey; I’m going to 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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