O Tempora! O Morales!

Dearest Rachel – While I might have considered Macomb to have been a tiny little backwater town even before I met you, it had plenty of advantages for you that wouldn’t have existed in your average backwater little town. What with the university being the main ‘industry’ of the town, there were cultural opportunities availedContinue reading “O Tempora! O Morales!”

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 hereContinue reading “The Other Side of the Conversation”

I’m With Stupid (Times Two)

Dearest Rachel – You know, one of the things that I really miss about your absence is the fact that I’m no longer able to just say whatever I want to. If something popped into my head, I could just lean over to you and say it, without too much fear of you judging meContinue reading “I’m With Stupid (Times Two)”

The Thrill of the Hunt

Dearest Rachel – One of the particular advantages of still being far out of sorts, with regard to time zones (not to mention suffering from the effects of the food coma kicking in early on in the fourth quarter between New York and Dallas, not that I had any concern about the outcome of thatContinue reading “The Thrill of the Hunt”

The New Saturday Routine

Dearest Rachel – I think you might remember me telling you back in the day how odd it was that, once I was able to retire, I only ever had to set my alarm on Sunday mornings. Of course, that’s to be understood; when we volunteer to work at all three services on a givenContinue reading “The New Saturday Routine”

Untouchable

Dearest Rachel – In a few ways, I was actually quite prepared for life on my own. Thanks to our vastly different sleep schedules, I was already used to retiring to an empty bedroom. Similarly, the quiet mornings on my own aren’t that much different than before, apart from the fact that they’re not nearlyContinue reading “Untouchable”

Hadn’t Heard Your Voice in So Long

Dearest Rachel – Wouldn’t surprise you to know that I’ve started to forget what your voice sounded like? For all that I’ve kept your cell phone – and still continue to pay a nominal fee for it – it’s been ages since I’ve called it to hear you say how you ‘can’t come to theContinue reading “Hadn’t Heard Your Voice in So Long”

Battle Plans

Dearest Rachel – I can’t guess as to how much you still remember of your past life on this plane – especially things from so long ago (although, for all I know, you might be able to see the distant past just as well as the relatively recent, from your perspective), but I’m reminded today,Continue reading “Battle Plans”

The Love of the Legend

Dearest Rachel – As much as I might complain about not meeting people on this weekend’s camping venture, I happen to know that a lot of it is my own fault. You’ve already heard about how I hadn’t felt comfortable talking to the ‘guests’ as a mere worker, but that sort of reticence applies toContinue reading “The Love of the Legend”

…And Always Too Soon

Dearest Rachel – I’m not entirely sure why Lili von Schtupp’s solo number from Blazing Saddles is running through my head. It seems that both of my letters today are inspired by one song or another (not that this one is at all relevant to the situation at hand). It’s probably due to the factContinue reading “…And Always Too Soon”

The Things We Meant to Watch Together

Dearest Rachel – Between our collection of anime and television shows, I used to joke about how we were gathering up enough entertainment to see us through a long, debilitating final illness – or at least, an extended period of time without internet. Only, your last day was just like every other day; everything wasContinue reading “The Things We Meant to Watch Together”

A Wish to Return

Dearest Rachel – Last night, I found myself dreaming about our trip to San Antonio, and wishing we could go back there. I’m not entirely sure why. Oh, don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of good reasons to want to. The place we stayed at was really quite something, with its expansive room andContinue reading “A Wish to Return”

You’d Always Check In

Dearest Rachel – I have a hard time with the whole “What Would [fill in the blank; it’s usually Jesus, but some people use other names as well where applicable] Do?” question sometimes. Not because I don’t know what they’d do in the given situation, necessarily, but because, with enough rationalization, you can claim justificationContinue reading “You’d Always Check In”

The Modesty of a Child

Dearest Rachel – It’s something of a shame, but it sometimes seems that it requires a special occasion for the family to get together at a restaurant after church these days, when that used to be a weekly tradition. Then again, this is the second week in a row that we’ve been able to doContinue reading “The Modesty of a Child”

Fresh Squeezed

Dearest Rachel – While we were at the folks’ place for dinner on Thursday, I mentioned about how I needed to do some grocery shopping on our way home (granted, Meijer isn’t exactly ‘on our way,’ but we would be out and about, so it seemed like something worth taking care of before we gotContinue reading “Fresh Squeezed”

More Memories of Hugs

Dearest Rachel – After telling you about Daniel and his efforts to carry on your legacy of embracing others for various worthy reasons, I had other thoughts and memories on the subject, but decided that they merit a separate letter, so as not to distract from the good he was and is doing in followingContinue reading “More Memories of Hugs”

It’s Not Them…

Dearest Rachel – “It’s not you, it’s me.” It’s amazing to realize you never heard those words directed at you, but I know it to be true. You never dated anyone – indeed, you never considered dating (although you admitted to having a handful of childhood crushes back in the day) – until I cameContinue reading “It’s Not Them…”

To Think I Nearly Forgot

Dearest Rachel – Were you still here, this wouldn’t have happened, of course. I would have made preparations beforehand. I’d have checked with you as to what you would have wanted – and had it in hand to set on your nightstand when you awoke, along with a card (assuming it was something that wouldContinue reading “To Think I Nearly Forgot”

In Your Stead

Dearest Rachel – I always knew that I could find someone to replace you, but if I find someone to do the things we used to do together, that would be sufficient for the time being. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be the only one who needed someone to take your place,Continue reading “In Your Stead”

I Wish I Had Taken More Pictures

Dearest Rachel – So, last night we met the girls for dinner. I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit of a fire drill; not gonna specify, either, because I’m not sure which nationality applies here – Chinese, Bavarian, or some other – and regardless, it’d probably be racist, or at least ethnist, to doContinue reading “I Wish I Had Taken More Pictures”

Who Was That Tomato?

Dearest Rachel – During my final year in college, I took both a business class in marketing, and an art class in graphic design. I’m not entirely certain, therefore, which class introduced me to the Wolfschmidt Vodka ad campaign. Dating from either the late 50s or the early 60s, it was one of the firstContinue reading “Who Was That Tomato?”

A Private Balcony

Dearest Rachel – I know it was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure you remember our first cruise. When the folks took us to Alaska, it was a really big deal, even though we had interior staterooms. You had to bring a nightlight for Daniel’s sake, because once the door was closed andContinue reading “A Private Balcony”

Memories of Bananas Foster

Dearest Rachel – There are so many things about this trip that seem to be reminding me of our honeymoon trip; maybe it’s just that I’m keeping track for once in my life. Before now, I might have a flash of remembrance – I might even mention it to you at the moment – butContinue reading “Memories of Bananas Foster”

A Perfect Day?

Dearest Rachel – Do you remember this place, honey? Well, I’m back here. Hadn’t actually planned to be – originally, the itinerary had us docking in Nassau today, but some of the passengers were sent an incorrect itinerary, and the cruise line discovered (not sure how, as I don’t recall being asked one way orContinue reading “A Perfect Day?”

The Finnish Reindeer Coat

Dearest Rachel – The other day, I saw Mom getting a few old coats out of the cedar closet in their basement (from the room under what used to be my own, back when I was growing up). Admittedly, I didn’t think much of it, but took the moment to fill her in on theContinue reading “The Finnish Reindeer Coat”

Turing Tested, NOT Approved

Dearest Rachel – The weird thing about this morning’s letter, was that I barely covered the topic I’d originally set out to discuss with you. I kind of got sidetracked by the fact that up until now I hadn’t talked much about certain things you enjoyed, simply because I didn’t really share your enthusiasm forContinue reading “Turing Tested, NOT Approved”

Dealing With It All

Dearest Rachel – I apologize for giving short shrift to a number of the things that you loved so much; the things that very much defined you, but I wasn’t nearly as into myself, and so I’ve paid little attention to since. I’m sure I’ll go on quite a bit in the next two orContinue reading “Dealing With It All”

Aniki no Yuutsu

Dearest Rachel – So, yesterday morning, as part of the Sunday service, our worship pastor, Jansen, was ordained. It’s something of a requirement for pastoral staff and elders (as you well know, since I went through the same theological training in those last few years before your accident, although I wasn’t required to write aContinue reading “Aniki no Yuutsu”

The Mockery of Billboards

Dearest Rachel – I forget if I read much of his stuff before you were a part of my life – I don’t think you introduced me to his work – but you seemed to have an affinity toward the poetry of Ogden Nash. His series on ‘Animals’ was one you favored, but the mostContinue reading “The Mockery of Billboards”

Not Just ‘Someone Else’s Car’

Dearest Rachel – I want to start this letter off by saying there’s nothing more uncomfortable than driving someone else’s car, but that’s not exactly true. I suspect that, given enough time, and pointed where all of the necessary (and some of the extraneous ones, like the sound system) controls are, I can get usedContinue reading “Not Just ‘Someone Else’s Car’”

Return on Investment

Dearest Rachel – This past week, when the girls were over for our every other Friday get together, Ellen and I were together in the kitchen, talking about old times. She is the one person I can talk to when I want to reminisce about you, as her memory is stronger than mine, and goesContinue reading “Return on Investment”

Good Charlotte

Dearest Rachel – It would seem that our resident spider is back again, or perhaps her progeny. I don’t always – or even often – see her there, but she’s something of a fixture in the master bathroom. We have occasionally seen spiders there throughout the time we’ve owned this house. Why the master bathroom,Continue reading “Good Charlotte”

Muscle Massage Memories

Dearest Rachel – The late Betty White (don’t know if you’ve seen her up there, or if you could find her. While I’d admit that Rose had that ‘faith of a child,’ similar to how your mom was during her last few years, I’d wager that Sue Ellen wouldn’t be remotely interested in religion; andContinue reading “Muscle Massage Memories”

Pictures of Better Days

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes, I don’t know how my folks deal with it. Now, I have photos of you throughout the house; it’s a result of finding them in the process of cleaning the place out (not to mention cleaning off places for them to sit). That should be understandable; in fact, what would beContinue reading “Pictures of Better Days”

Spaces In Our Togetherness

Dearest Rachel – These days, Ruby will occasionally ask me whether I’ve spoken to another woman, especially if I don’t contact – or respond to – her on Google Chat quickly enough. Maybe she’s worried that she’ll lose me to someone else too early in the game, in which case I suppose I should beContinue reading “Spaces In Our Togetherness”

“Drives Through Storms”

Dearest Rachel – I think it must’ve happened while we were still courting; probably after we were engaged, but definitely while you were still living with your parents. I had planned to drive down to see you, despite reports of severe weather between the Chicago area and Macomb. I don’t think it was serious whereContinue reading ““Drives Through Storms””

Three Hundred Days

Dearest Rachel – Upon sending you my last letter, about the man yelling at the intercom outside the police headquarters, I received a ping from the WordPress application. In some ways it wasn’t much different from those that I get every day, complete with the standard ‘keep up the good work’ encouragement. But today wasContinue reading “Three Hundred Days”

Traditions No More

Dearest Rachel – I honestly thought I could do it. I thought I could just get through the details and activities of the Thanksgiving holiday without being ambushed by your loss. I kept myself so busy, between the work in the booth for the Thanksgiving Eve service the night before, and the preparations for theContinue reading “Traditions No More”

from Rachel: I Am Thankful…

“I am thankful… “7/21/97 “that I am a child of the King “that He has forgiven all my transgressions (Psalm 32:1) “that I’m finally keeping one of these (silly) journals Oprah keeps promoting “that I am laid back enough to not get stressed out if I miss a day sometimes (/often) “for a break inContinue reading “from Rachel: I Am Thankful…”

The Fear of False Positives

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned to you in a few other earlier letters about how I’m trying not to get too excited about my upcoming trip. For one, although it takes me to a lot of places I’ve never been to, I’m doing this completely on my own, and I can’t say I’m really lookingContinue reading “The Fear of False Positives”

At the Scene

Dearest Rachel – From the very first moment this trip was planned, where the team would run from church to camp, I had no idea whether I would be able to stand here. Once I was here, however, it seemed inappropriate for me not to come here. There’s no indication from the way things lookContinue reading “At the Scene”

Seeking Donations

Dearest Rachel – Even with Caller ID, I can’t help it. I was raised to answer the phone when it rang, regardless of who it was. That robotic voice can say ‘potential spam’ all she likes, I’m still going to pick up the phone, and find out what it is they want. To be sure,Continue reading “Seeking Donations”

Overlooked Traumas

Dearest Rachel – So last night at Grief Share, the subject under discussion was that of trauma. And while it could be argued that any loss can be considered traumatic from a certain point of view, tonight’s session dealt somewhat specifically with the likes of the more sudden variety – murders, suicides, multiple deaths (suchContinue reading “Overlooked Traumas”

Costumes

Dearest Rachel – There are so many things to say on this Halloween; so many memories to call up. It was a Halloween I am which I first sat with you in the cafeteria at breakfast, decked out as a denim clad mime, but unable to keep silent. Since I’d made up my face toContinue reading “Costumes”

Open Door Policy

…As I told you, the door to my office is always open. I think you know why it’s always open – that was stolen, I’d like that returned. Bob Newhart, Captain’s remarks from “The Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish,” The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960) Dearest Rachel – I used to think that oursContinue reading “Open Door Policy”

Empty Reminders

Dearest Rachel – It doesn’t really follow to mourn a place you never patronized, but we always agreed it was said to see a business leave the area, regardless. Every empty restaurant, even one that we never got around to visiting, is still a blight on the landscape for sitting vacant. And let’s not getContinue reading “Empty Reminders”

Love & Marriage

Dearest Rachel – Happy Sweetest Day, honey. It’s weird; we never observed this holiday together. We considered ourselves fortunate enough to remember Valentine’s Day and our anniversary for each other. So why am I bothering now, seeing as I don’t have any sweetest to make a day out of this? Well, since the anniversary ofContinue reading “Love & Marriage”

Twilight Memories

Dearest Rachel – The nights are getting longer; well, they’ve been getting longer since Daniel’s birthday nearly four months ago. But now that we’ve passed the vernal equinox, and the hours of darkness exceed those of light, it becomes that much more obvious… and painful. October, even out here on the internet, is a monthContinue reading “Twilight Memories”

You Can Put Away Your Sunscreen

Dearest Rachel – Well, another season has come and gone. Summer is officially over. Amazing to realize that the passage of time is not an arbitrary concept, but there are physical conditions that we can observe here on earth; day and night, and the length of each defining the season of the year, even ifContinue reading “You Can Put Away Your Sunscreen”

Never Knew I’d Need Notes

Dearest Rachel – At some point in last night’s Grief Share meeting, the video session was going over certain emotions and attitudes we might have within the first few days and weeks. Honestly, I’m not sure why I was told earlier that my grief was ‘too raw’ and it was ‘too soon’ to go throughContinue reading “Never Knew I’d Need Notes”

Surprises

Dearest Rachel – I’ll tell you, this year thus far has been absolutely full of surprises. Which means that it’s probably a good thing you’re not around to deal with them, as you hated surprises. This was particularly evident when it came to birthdays and holidays – anything having to do with gift-giving. The longContinue reading “Surprises”

The Most Important Hour of My Life – On An Insignificant Day

Dearest Rachel – I feel like I should apologize for the poor quality of this video. But the tape is, after all, twenty-nine years old, and it hasn’t been played in maybe ten, fifteen years; it can’t be expected to hold up all that well for all that time, especially on such an outdated andContinue reading “The Most Important Hour of My Life – On An Insignificant Day”

A Day to Remember

Dearest Rachel – Twenty-nine years ago today, we were simply hanging out at the hotel, waiting for family and friends to arrive and greeting them as they did. Only one story stands out with me at this point – most of the others, I’m afraid, have faded into obscurity. It was some of your mom’sContinue reading “A Day to Remember”

Grateful

Dearest Rachel – You’ll remember that, on thanksgivings at the folks’ place, we would offer a handful of things we were thankful for during the year. Well, it seems that Luke has assigned as homework along those sort of lines; before we roll out of bed in the morning, we are to come up withContinue reading “Grateful”

The Box of War

Dearest Rachel – I don’t think you performed this before I was aware of you; at least, not when you performed it for the BASIC group as part of a talent night. If I recall, you had also recited this as part of a similar talent night on the educational cruise you took with yourContinue reading “The Box of War”

The Futility of Collection

Dearest Rachel – So the other day, I started working on those video tapes from downstairs; playing them on one of our old VCRs, running the output through the converter box, and turning them into digital files. I’ll probably be putting one of them up on my channel at some point today, because I needContinue reading “The Futility of Collection”

Thousands of Hours to Go

Dearest Rachel – I went through three VCRs trying to figure out what was going wrong. It turned out that the reason there was no adequate picture was because I shouldn’t have plugged the connection in all the way. I think I’m gonna have to go back and explain this to you. Let me justContinue reading “Thousands of Hours to Go”

The Day You Said ‘Yes’

Dearest Rachel – It’s hard to remember sometimes, but there was a time when the idea of ‘us’ wasn’t a foregone conclusion. On the other hand, as of this day, thirty years ago, it was, for all intents and purposes. It was but a question of when. After all, you had spent time with usContinue reading “The Day You Said ‘Yes’”

The Day of Surgery

Ten years and five months to the day before the accident… 9:35 a.m. I’m writing everyone from Lutheran General Hospital. Rachel was wheeled into surgery just over an hour ago (at 8:30 a.m. – about an hour later than originally scheduled). As most of you know, they’re going to be removing a tumor that’s wedgedContinue reading “The Day of Surgery”

Music For Staring at the Axe

Dearest Rachel – Eleven years ago tomorrow, you went in for surgery to remove a tumor from your brain. At the time, we didn’t know what was going to happen to you; the fact that it was not within the brain was a relatively good sign, and the doctor was fairly certain it would turnContinue reading “Music For Staring at the Axe”

Sleeping In Denim

Dearest Rachel – It seems there are a few memes out there about people who sleep dressed, specifically while wearing jeans… Not sure I understand what the fuss is all about. Between showering after walking home, and therefore changing afterwards (look, it’s August in Chicago – why should I stay in those sweaty clothes anyContinue reading “Sleeping In Denim”

Seeing Other People

Dearest Rachel – It’s hard for me to wrap my head around it now, seeing as to how for so many years the two of us would appear in public practically joined at the hip. But in those early days of our relationship, we had, shall we say, “spaces in our togetherness.” In a way,Continue reading “Seeing Other People”

Digital Cache

Dearest Rachel – I keep wondering when the time will come when I’ve found the last remnant of your memory. After all, everything in life is finite, and you were here for only a limited amount of time. Surely at some point, I will run out of photographs to ruminate over, music or other recordingsContinue reading “Digital Cache”

The Sullen Little Girl and Her Raggedy Ann

Dearest Rachel – This photo hung on the wall – along with a collection of other family photos, but this and the one of their last dog took pride of place, due to their size and prominence – in the hall leading from the family room of your parents’ house to their bedroom, passing byContinue reading “The Sullen Little Girl and Her Raggedy Ann”

Gallagher’s Happy House

Dearest Rachel – There were several things in our lives that we both had knowledge and enjoyment of, but never quite shared as we could have. One, of course, was the nation of Japan (and its attendant culture), which we both visited and fell in love with before we became a couple – you asContinue reading “Gallagher’s Happy House”