Dearest Rachel –
After the past weekend, I realize I’ve been belaboring the fact that I’ve been dealing with a torrent of utterly unsolicited text messages from a surprising number of (alleged) girls online. Please don’t feel jealous; if you were still around, you know I wouldn’t be putting myself in situations where this sort of thing could even happen (and for what it’s worth, I even went so far as to block one of them, but she did cross a line – and in the middle of Sparks when I really can’t afford any sort of conversation, let alone that sort. But that may well be a story for another time, or sufficient in this passing comment; I don’t know). But as it does, know that you are still in mind throughout this… situation? ordeal? I don’t even know what to call it.
The crazy thing is, some of it is brought on by the girls themselves. I mentioned ‘Stephanie’, in particular, who asked a question that had me sending a wall of text (hey, I would occasionally get those kinds of messages from girls when they would contact me, why not return the favor to one of them?); “What is that you missed most in a woman?”
I’ve lamented the fact that, for all the letters I’ve been sending you, far too few have been actual love letters directed to you, as I’d originally intended. Most of them have been filling you in on this or that thing that has been happening in your absence; the loss of Chompers (and my hope that you’ve been able to reconnect to the old boy); the changes being made to the house; the dynamic between Daniel and myself as I try to change myself, even as I note his seemingly deliberate inertia; and so forth.
They don’t talk much about the past, except in passing; perhaps a comparison of ‘then’ and ‘now’, but that’s about it. I think it’s because so much of that is truly personal – some, to the point where I’ve been advised to not talk about certain aspects of our lives in a public forum on the internet, despite the acknowledged fact that, as the Little Tramp put it, “all married couples do that!” – but also, because the past is past, and there’s no way to get back there from here to accurately record what it was like, because we thought we’d have millions of such days between us. So I have trouble remembering what it was like, what you were like, unless specific incidents and activities come to mind – and considering that current life comes at me fast, that’s a rare thing, indeed.
But this question made me think a little bit, and I found it wasn’t particularly hard. In fact, it was easy to come up with a list of specific stuff that ‘Stephanie’ (and probably all of the others who’ve reached out to me this past weekend) can and will never be able to do, because they require a physical presence. Of course, they’re past your ability to do, either, but that was neither deliberate nor desired on your part (although I sure you’ve no desire to return at this point, given what you must be experiencing). And, to be honest, I don’t think they were necessarily unique to you, although few girls I’ve met thus far – including your friends, who you hand-picked as having so many of your own qualities – could accomplish them all. In any event, here’s just a partial list of the things I miss about you, much expanded from what I challenged ‘Stephanie’ with:
֍ I miss the sight of you first thing in the morning, lying there beside me. Even if you didn’t necessarily wake up until the moment I was about to leave the house, the fact that you would never settle for a peck on the cheek as I bid you goodbye for the day, but you would rise up – or reach up – to reciprocate with a deeper kiss to wish me well as I left for work. You’ve no idea how much of an encouragement that was, in some of the darkest times of my career, to know I had your support.
֍ I miss your ability to work a room; now, this is something a number of people (mostly woman it would seem) can do, but you had a particular gift for making people feel welcome as they entered your orbit. Even though you were never an official greeter at church, you had a knack for finding a person who looked lost, and engaging them in conversation, and making them feel more at home. I always said that, if I did nothing else right in my miserable life, I at least managed to bring you up from downstate, where you could work your magic on so many more people, and blossom yourself even as you helped others to.
֍ I miss being able to discuss all those ‘third rail’ type of topics with you – you know, sex, politics, religion – and the fact that, while you and I didn’t necessarily hold the exact same positions on many topics, we were still open to talking about them civilly. And while you were open enough to come around to my point of view quite often, you were also intelligent and persuasive enough convince me in turn on many points, all in a spirit of friendly banter and bonhomie. I think this may be the result of the fact that you were not only my wife, but also my best friend.
֍ I miss our Saturday mornings together; not just the obvious, which I can’t and won’t go on about (much as I’d like to), but the whole lounging around together with nowhere to go and nothing to do. You were never one to insist on getting up and getting on with the day; apart from certain biological needs, you were just as happy to stay put. You may never have been comfortable sleeping in my arms, but you were quite content to nestle in them. You have no idea how much I wish I could hold you like that again – I’d say just one more time, but I doubt I could be satisfied with that, truth be told.
֍ I miss our thirty years of inside jokes, and how the memory of one little line could send us tripping down the rabbit hole of pop culture references, until we found ourselves wondering how we got to where we did, and trace our way back up our stream of consciousness, laughing most of the way. And speaking of that…
֍ I miss you sitting beside me at church or in a theater, and how we would comment sotto voce about what was being said or going on up on the screen, as though you and I were Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot (now there’s a pop culture reference for you!). Most of the time, it was just amusing, but sometimes, one or the other of us would even come up with an insight or two, and I miss the fact that we could, even in a way that might be considered less than polite, be a sounding board for each other.
֍ Believe it or not, I even miss walking together with you and Chompers. I’ve begun to regret those nights when the weather was lousy but he had business to do, and I would apologize for making you go out alone (reminding you that ‘he’s your dog, after all’), and you would go out there quite willingly with him. You really were good to him, and I hope he’s there with you to remind you of that. But I miss walking and talking with you on those occasions, and wouldn’t mind having that responsibility back in order to have you at my side.
֍ And with that having been said, I do simply miss having you by my side. Even on those evenings when the three of us would hang out in the family room, each of us on our own computers (and there were times when I wished we could converse instead of just being engrossed in our own things, but I understood that if we tried that, we would all – including myself – find ourselves wishing we could get back to what we had been doing on our own), I could turn to the couch, and watch you as you did your thing in Gardens of Time or whatever else you were paging through online. These days, Daniel and I will find ourselves watching something on YouTube, and something may be said that, back in the day, would have grabbed your attention, and I occasionally find myself glancing at the couch for your reaction, only to catch myself, and remind myself that you’re no longer there to react to this or that like you used to.
It sounds so trivial and mundane, honey, but you’d be amazed to realize some of the truly ordinary things that cause me to miss you so badly. I’d like to imagine a ‘Megumi’ who could do – or be – all these things, but I admit, I’ve yet to meet her (or if I have, it’s been without either of us knowing, thus far). If you recognize her, give her a little nudge my direction; these past twenty months have been an awfully long time to be going without.
You know, love letters aren’t mean to end with a plea for the beloved to help find her own successor, but I hope you understand the situation. There was so much about life with you that I so enjoyed, that I don’t want to never be able to experience it again. I hope you can recognize that for the compliment it’s supposed to be.
Anyway, as always, I have to ask for you to keep an eye on me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.