The Other Side of the Conversation

Dearest Rachel –

For all my talk yesterday about being able to lean over to you and say whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, there is, of course, another aspect to the newfound silence in my life. That is to say, the lack of response to anything I might say to you in the here and now – or even more so, the conversations and comments you would initiate with me. I’m not sure I could begin to guess at the many things you would have to tell me from day to day if you were still around, experiencing life and relating your perspective to me.

I know I have a lot to write to you each day – sometimes I’m amazed that I’m able to crank out something like a thousand words every day in what could be considered a reasonably coherent and organized form (or maybe I flatter myself? I know you’d be more than willing to tell me otherwise, if it were so). But for all this, it’s really nothing in comparison to the words the two of us would exchange with each other throughout the course of any given day, without ever given a thought to trying to organize and write it down. Indeed, it would never cross my mind to write any of it down, as it would usually dwell on the typical mundane trivialities of the day – and it wouldn’t (just as it didn’t, not so long ago) occur to me how precious even the smallest of those supposed ‘trivialities’ would be, one day.

For all the subjects that I touch on from one day to the next, I have next to no idea what your replies or opinions would be to them – and those I have some idea about, I will often recognize that they might have been, at the very least, uncomfortable alterations too the status quo, which you might well have found objectionable. It’s why I’ve taken the opportunity to apologize to you so many times, especially as I recorded both the purge and the remodeling process. I really couldn’t expect that what I was doing would’ve been allowed to begin, even if you might have been pleased with the end results. The loss of so many treasured things would have been too painful for you to deal with, I know full well.

Of course, much of those changes would never have taken place if you were still around. And yet, we would still be exchanging words and paragraphs between ourselves, far more than I can think to write down here and now. How is that possible? Is it just the fact that normal human interaction, if it were committed to paper or recording, would be insufferably dull in the retelling? Is it just that, now that one of the voices in the conversation is forever silenced, any words, no matter how trifling, become priceless? Maybe that’s it; just as the value of a work of art skyrockets with the demise of the artist, the mere fact that there will no longer be anything forthcoming from that source bestows upon whatever was a value infinitely greater than it had in life. It’s an unfortunate situation, that we don’t realize the importance of what we have while we have it.

And yet, I don’t think you ever thought of yourself as undervalued; or if you did, you never felt that way because of me or Daniel. I’m pretty sure you would have said something if you had. Then again, I wouldn’t have thought that I undervalued you, either, and here I am, realizing just how much more anything I might hear from you about a subject – any subject – would be treasured by me at this point, especially when compared to days past.

Even your silent presence is missed. You would not believe how often I find myself looking to my side at the empty passenger’s seat as I’m driving. It’s not like we were constantly talking to each other as we drove from one errand to another – each of us might be lost in our own trains of thought more often than not – but just the fact that you were there was something I got so used to, I’m still having a hard time dealing with you no longer being there. Daniel’s not nearly as insistent on accompanying me everywhere I go, and even when I insist on him coming along to this place or that, it’s not really the same dynamic.


It’s a pity that you and I never got to that point of mutual harmony that you hear about among older married couples, where we understood and could predict each other perfectly. I’ve heard stories of couples who were so in tune with each other, that they could finish each other sentences almost all the time without fail. Then again, perhaps neither of us would have wanted to be that level of predictable; life and relationships need a certain amount of randomness in order to keep from getting boring and stale.

It does make it difficult, however, when I find myself wondering what you would say in response to any of my letters. It’s true that our relationship came to be in the first place because of a response from you that I never expected, but the fact that I can’t reasonably imagine your reactions these days makes it difficult to engage with you, or your memory, the way I feel like I ought to. I can’t fill in the dead air after I say something with what you might reasonably have been expected to say; there’s no putting words into your mouth, at least nothing that sounds right.

And that’s the other part I miss so much about your absence these days. I’m sure you can understand. Anyway, with that being said, 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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