Dearest Rachel –
I told you before I’m trying to tiptoe around the subject of your absence with Daniel, even to the point of not sharing with him about Kerstin’s present for you. I’m not sure how and to what extent he feels your absence, especially after all this time.
Occasionally I will ask how he’s doing, and the response is always something on the order of either a stock ‘fine’ or exultant in terms of spiritual things. He seems to be focused on the hereafter – or at least, on the ‘revival’ that’s supposed to happen in the very near future here on earth – rather than in the past that you occupied. And while I suppose that’s a good thing, I just can’t bring myself to believe some of the things he’s been exposed to.
One in particular that gets under my skin is one that claims to have been to heaven and back numerous – even hundreds – of times. I realize that Paul made a similar claim, but I don’t think this woman is any Paul. Honestly, I really think she’s telling bereaved people like Daniel what they want to hear. And while some of her assertions seem fairly reasonable – in some respects, they’re not that any more farfetched than those conjectures drawn by CS Lewis in either The Great Divorce or The Last Battle (although he made it abundantly clear that the former was a dream and not to be taken literally, and the latter was… well, it was Narnia, after all) – I don’t think they should be treated as gospel, either.
The political stuff that he listens to also tends to get old in my ears. It may be amusing to constantly assert that in our last year together, I went from being the most conservative to the most liberal member of our little family without really changing positions, but given the stridency of the stuff Daniel listens to, I might as well be wearing black bloc when I talk to him on the subject – and I’d just as soon not.
So, when we’re hanging out and watching YouTube videos together, I try to focus on fairly anodyne, mindless entertainment. Something non-controversial that we can both enjoy. Or if it does tend toward the political, let it be administered with more than a dash of humor. After all…
The devil…that proud spirit…cannot endure to be mocked.Thomas More, as quoted by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters
…and there certainly are a whole lot of devils in the political arena these days, acting stupidly and just begging to be mocked.
But that’s as it may be. The thing is, many of the channels we subscribe to, we consume faster than they can produce. We’ve been binging on a couple of game channels where the gamer takes the game to its logical extreme (and beyond) to humorous effect, but I’m concerned that we might be running out of episodes of those soon enough, and so I’m trying to look farther afield.
(As a sidebar, I should mention that we don’t watch the gamers that the three of us used to – or the two of you, rather, while I tended to nap in the recliner. Sure, Mark, Jack, Pews and those others continue to crank out material – and Daniel and I will occasionally watch animated takes on their interactions with the games, with each other’s, and even with his editor, in Mark’s case – but I think Daniel tends to see those fellows as people he would watch with you, and not something he wants to do again without you for the most part)
But that mention of game-related animation has given me something to look for – and I’m the one who needs to look, as Daniel is more than satisfied with his own channels, and sees no need to search for others like I do. Indeed, he tends to be skeptical of anything new, as ‘you never know what you’re going to get,’ and Forrest’s mother would say.
Still, if you don’t bother looking, you won’t find stuff like this:
To be sure, his reaction to this first thing this morning was something of a ‘meh,’ but that may just have been from having just woken up, and still not quite feeling his best yet.
But last night, this wasn’t what was made available to me. Instead, I found an animation that claim to have received a whole bunch of awards, so I figured we would enjoy it. It even looked to have a gender swapped version of our own family dynamic, complete with a focus around, if not the dining room, at least the kitchen table.
I know that you don’t care for spoilers, and it’s a fairly short watch in any event, but it took until it was about two-thirds of the way in before I’d realized I’d made a terrible mistake. The mother and the daughter grow up, and grow old throughout the course of the short – and you can guess where that eventually ends up. In short, this little film was just one more reminder that you, as his mother, were no longer here. It would’ve been one of those things that would’ve left you weeping – and probably headachy the next day.
“Thanks for that little bit of depression,” he told me once it was over, and I found myself apologizing profusely. I’m still convinced that his sniffling was more to do with his current illness than actual sadness or grief, but I did feel like I’d let him down.
At the same time, I discovered that he doesn’t appear to be all that emotional about it. He’s almost more annoyed that it bothers him, from what little I can tell. But then again, I’m not very good at reading other peoples emotions – any more than he is.
And it could’ve been worse; I could’ve shown him this short (which is one in a series, if you can believe it):
I really have to be more judicious in seeking out light entertainment for us to enjoy together.
And with that in mind, honey, wish us luck – I think we’re going to need it.