At Home with Him

Dearest Rachel –

It’s enough when I see you now and again in dreams; to see Kevin, laughing at what seemed to be modern-era Simpsons episodes (which, to give my opinion, have jumped so far that they can barely see the shark from orbit) even as I sat there, incredulous at his amusement, was just strange, and not a little bit haunting. Not that I’d wish to watch the show with him again, the way I would want the house filled with piles of stuff if I were to be able to have you back – for all I can recall, Kevin’s opinion on The Simpsons was never any more favorable than my own – but it’s somehow representative of our relationship. It may not have been this show, but there were plenty of things he liked that I simply… tolerated… for his sake when I was in his presence.

The weird thing is that, in my dream, he even had a podcast – or maybe a video channel – where he was reviewing these episodes almost right after they aired, and interacting with a surprisingly lively chatroom as he did so. Actually, he assigned me to do the interactions with the chat, as he found it difficult to proceed with his review and type responses to the chat at the same time (which is certainly understandable). But why me? I didn’t have anything like his opinion; how could I represent him online? And what was he going to do for the episodes (of the podcast, not the show exactly) when I wasn’t there for him? Didn’t he have anyone else to help him?

Or was I just jealous that he was reaching a wider audience than I ever could dream of?

‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.’

Robert Frost, Death of the Hired Man

Even after waking up from that, I found myself pondering what I had witnessed. To be honest, I could see him doing something like that; certainly not about The Simpsons, but there were plenty of things he was truly passionate about in a way that I could never understand. And when he would start talking about those topics, it was all I could do to at least pretend to be interested in them for politeness and friendship’s sake. If nothing else, I knew that if I was to take a turn at talking, I’d want him to do likewise.

Now, it’s not as if we didn’t connect over things – he was the one who got me into Civilization, for instance (although I haven’t touched any of its iterations since his passing), and there were, of course, always those discussions we had on points of doctrine and the like – but so many of his passions just weren’t mine (if I had any to speak of). He may have gotten me into Civ, but I never warmed to Diablo, for example. He was so deeply into the likes of Rush and so many other ’60s and ’70s-era bands, and I could barely get into much beyond the Beatles. We connected over Skype and enjoyed YouTube together, but I couldn’t get into TikTok the way he did; although in my defense, I simply don’t trust the company (and more to the point, the government) behind it. And indeed, that led to the biggest falling out between us; that of Anastasia, and how much blood and treasure we as Americans should be pouring into Ukraine. And considering I wound up being the moderate voice between him and Daniel, this was particularly difficult.

But this was how things went. Between time and distance, there was a lot that separated us as the years passed – not that there weren’t considerable differences between us to begin with – and yet, neither of us would – or perhaps could – let go of the other. We were a connection to each other’s past, even if that past didn’t reach as far as back as all that (it’s not as if we were childhood friends, for instance, not with the eight-year gap in our ages).

And that’s the sad and scary thing about him; given how Ray wanted me to say something about him, I wonder if I wasn’t still one of his closest friends, despite all of this difference and distance between us. If he had a podcast, or some similar connection to the wider world like I dreamed of, he might very well have wanted me manning the comments and chat while he expounded on his opinions on this thing or that, assuming I shared his feelings on the subjects, despite the fact that, behind my polite face, I did no such thing. Where is the line between politeness and deception?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. If he thought that I felt as he did about a topic, whether it was true or not, if that meant that we felt at home with each other, maybe that’s all that matters. I shouldn’t be stewing over the fact that it wasn’t true from where I stood, and simply taken pleasure in the fact that he was happy in my company, despite that. And I wonder if, based on some of the things you’ve written, whether you didn’t have a few things like that between us, but as long as they went unexpressed, all was well. Is everything unsaid a lie of omission, or are there certain things that don’t need to be dwelt upon? I really don’t know, honey, and I suspect that, the longer I muse about such things, the less I will know.

Besides, it’s not as if anything can be done at this point anyway, whether between Kevin or you. But I suppose I can still dream…

Anyway, 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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