Box Canyon Blues

Dearest Rachel –

I don’t mind the time I spend in the video booth during church, even if it does occasionally require waking up at what seems to be (and I know you’d agree, with your circadian rhythm) a ridiculous hour. I find the need to keep busy, even (especially?) on the weekend, to keep myself from dwelling on the emptiness in my life and the house left by your absence. Besides, the work needs to be done, I can do it, and it’s a way to be part of Something Larger than myself, something that continues to bring people to the Kingdom, where, someday, you’ll get to meet them (among many more important things).

But there are times when I just wish that participation (whether service or worship). didn’t serve as so much of a reminder of where I am in life. You’re familiar with this particular song…

…and I’ve referenced it several times in previous letters. The message it espouses is important and valid; recognizing that God is worthy of praise no matter our circumstances is a choice we can and should make. God is good, and good to us, no matter what we think of Him in any given moment in our lives, and we need to choose to acknowledge that fact, whether we’re high on the mountain top or deep in a valley.

I just wish that this song didn’t constantly remind me that I’m in a valley.

Now, it’s true that, by writing you every day, I’m constantly reminding myself of your absence. But there are plenty of days where the day is just that; another day of this or that happening. I miss you, sure, but there are things happening around me (or, better for the sake of recovery, that I’m doing) that I feel the need to keep you informed about. I no longer (or at least, not for the moment) have to deal with a crippling sense of loss. Indeed, the mere passage of time tends toward that emotional recovery, although making deliberate attempts at distraction speeds that process along…

And then I hear this song, and see this lyric, reminding myself that, regardless of my decision to praise Him (and it does make it clear that this is the right decision on the singer’s part), it is still coming from ‘the lowest valley,’ and ever shall be.

That’s not a statement borne out of pessimism, honey, it’s a simple statement of fact. You are gone, and there is no bringing you back; indeed, as I’ve said before, it would be an act of sorest cruelty to rip you from paradise (even if only temporarily) simply to assuage my loneliness and Daniel’s. Even were I to find someone to fill your shoes, she would never be able to truly take your place – something I never understood about the ending of the book of Job; sure, he had new children to carry on his family line, but why should that make everything all right when he lost those others? – and would always find herself in your shadow somehow (a fact which I realize would make anyone that much less willing to apply for the position).

As valleys go, I am to a certain extent placed in a box canyon. The path that has led me here turns out to be the only way in, and the terrain, however lush and fertile it might be, is hemmed in on all other sides by sheer cliff faces, or at best, challenging mountainsides. The only feasible exit is back the way I came from, but since we are allowed but a single direction in which to traverse the fourth dimension that time is, that isn’t an option which is available to me. The best I can do is to make for myself a comfortable home here in the valley, and not dwell too much on the fact that it is a valley that I’m left to call home. You might argue, convincingly, that I should try to scale the mountainside in order to further facilitate my recovery. And I’d like to think that, in various ways and by various means, I’ve been doing some of that over the course of these past nineteen months. But every so often, things like this song remind me that I’ll never truly get away from the valley of having lost you.

Honestly, I’m not sure that it would even be appropriate to do so. No, there’s no sense in mourning over you for the rest of my life, dressing in nothing but black and shutting myself off from human contact while pining after you; however, it wouldn’t be right to try to erase you from my memory in a misguided effort to purge myself of everything that keeps me from moving forward. I will – and I think I need to – always be within sight of the box canyon I currently reside in, and the road that brought me here, in order to be able to recall all the good that you brought into my life, and the lives that you touched by being here.

Wouldn’t you agree? Or does it even matter to you? I wish you would let me know.

For now, just keep an eye on me, honey, and wish me luck; I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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