Personal Public Events

Dearest Rachel –

Went to bed last night thinking about weddings, honey. The group had been brainstorming ideas over text messages about what to do this evening, or more specifically, what to eat, since I’d been talking about breaking in the new appliances (and despite MatPat’s insistence that it can be done, I have no intention of cooking a meal in the dryer – ‘can’ does not equate to ‘should,’ after all), so we were discussing ideas for both the oven and the stove. Erin was staying out of the conversation, as this weekend was supposed to be seeing her in Milwaukee to serve as a bridesmaid for a college friend…

…until it wasn’t.

Look, I know the disappointment of having to drop out of one event or another because of a positive Covid test – I’ve spent the last two Novembers this way, whether justified or not. But while I could re-book a cruise that might otherwise be a once-in-a-lifetime thing (and I may yet do so, just not now), the fact that Erin has to miss out on a friend’s event that will not happen again (and is stuck with a dress specifically designed for that event, so she’s not likely to ever get an occasion to wear it now)… I can’t imagine how disappointing that has to be for her. Even missing out on what would have been our last Thanksgiving together wasn’t this traumatic – mostly because none of us knew that’s what it would have been.

We can’t even invite her over tonight as a consolation, for obvious reasons – although Kerstin (bless her) has offered to drop something by her place, should she be amenable. Can you put chicken soup on a pizza? Is chicken soup even any good against Covid, like it’s supposed to be for a cold? I’m sure the placebo functionality is still inherent in it, regardless.

***

Anyway, it got me to thinking about our own wedding (yes, yes, I’m always making the story about myself, I know… it’s not like I have any other perspective than my own, though). It’s only natural – these personal public events (that is, weddings and funerals, which are fairly common to all – or at least most – and yet highly personalized) have a tendency to get those that attend them (and those adjacent to them) to think about their own such events. What they might be like, or what they might like them to be like.

Somehow, I doubt that this weekend would have been likely to get Erin thinking in that direction, though, even if she had been able to go. In fact, I found myself pondering about how at least half our wedding party – whether by accident or design, I’m in no position to say; I can’t see into other’s hearts to know what they truly want or wanted out of life – never went on to celebrate such an occasion of their own. It might be even more than half, as we lost touch with both Bob (who wasn’t as close an acquaintance of either of ours, but who allowed us to get together at his place off-campus after I’d graduated, where I made a face-to-face confession to you of my feelings, confirming everything that I’d previously written to you. For that, he merited his position among my groomsmen) and Tammy in fairly short order afterwards; whether either of them got married, I’ve no idea.

Of course, thinking about one’s own prospects – or even desire – for marriage is mere periphery to the event itself. This was supposed to be a chance to see – and support – an old friend, with whom the relational dynamics are about to change irrevocably (‘forsaking all others’ doesn’t just refer to other potential mates – other friendships are made decidedly subservient to this new, permanent bond). To miss out on this event is more than just disheartening, it’s a lost opportunity to make connections to remember each other by before (and while) that change takes effect. I feel badly for her, and not just because of her illness (which, thankfully, seems to be fairly mild – she describes it as akin to an allergic reaction).

***

This morning, however, I found myself confronted by the wider news involving the other form of public event, and one which is much more inevitable than marriage – death. Specifically, that of the former Japanese prime minister, shot to death (in a country where annual shooting deaths haven’t been out of the double-digit figures in decades) while giving a campaign speech of some sort; I’ve not been able to figure out if he was campaigning for himself, or supporting a colleague.

In a way, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. For all our engagement in anime and other aspects of Japanese culture, Japan’s politics are, while not exactly alien to us, so far in the background of their stories as to be all but invisible. Unlike here in the States, where nowadays every bit of pop culture has a political bent to it (usually deliberately, and almost always to the left), it doesn’t show over there. It’s as if politics aren’t a part of Tarou Q. Public’s life. I doubt anything will be said about it in a couple of weekends when I head over to Coralville for AnimeIowa; it just doesn’t affect things that much. Or maybe I’m just oblivious to it all.

Still, the event just goes to show that evil will find a way. Not just the obvious evil of the shooter, who has made a statement to the police about being ‘dissatisfied’ with Mr. Abe (and here I thought that the British had a gift for dry understatement!) all the while insisting that it was not due to ‘a grudge against the former Prime Minister’s political beliefs’ (leaving one with no other option as to motivation other than straight-up evil), but the ‘evil’ that is the end of life itself. Bad things happen, and all the human effort we might put into it cannot prevent them from happening. The trees have been cut down on the hill to prevent another accident like yours, and restrictions on firearms exist on the books, both here and there, but these measures can’t stop everything.

We will all join you one day, honey, by one means or another. Some of us will be dragged there, kicking and screaming, while others will welcome that day with open arms. I don’t know which of those cohorts will count me in their number; were I to see you welcoming me, I’d likely count myself in the latter category, but there is so much of life left to see and do yet that I’m not so sure for now.

But until then, keep an eye out for me, and wish us all luck; I think every one of us is 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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