Abandoned

Dearest Rachel – Last night’s dream was a weird one to wake up from. What I can remember of it had to do with the family and a handful of others (including animals) needing to get back from somewhere in central Missouri, and quickly. So, while most of the others got cars to drive homeContinue reading “Abandoned”

A Weekend in a Day

Dearest Rachel – It’s weird to realize how little of what I’d had lined up for this weekend would have happened were you still with me. It’s even stranger to realize how few of the plans that I thought I had actually managed to pan out. And yet, there was plenty else to rush inContinue reading “A Weekend in a Day”

from Rachel: My Broken Relationships

Why do you suppose Proverbs says so much about relationships with fools? “Those relationships are the ones that tend to bring the most trouble into a person’s life.” Summarize in one sentence the teaching of the scriptures you just read. “Don’t hang around with fools – their foolishness is more easily transferred than your wisdom.”Continue reading “from Rachel: My Broken Relationships”

How Soon Until We’d Notice?

Dearest Rachel – There’s an old children’s-level joke that asks whether heat or cold is the faster, with the punchline being ‘heat… you can catch cold.’ At the risk of Aunt Florencing the joke (you’ll recall the reference, but I may have to explain this one to everyone else), I remember from even the firstContinue reading “How Soon Until We’d Notice?”

The Old Way Home

Dearest Rachel – For all my talk about taking a different way down here, you might think it’s strange that I return to our normal course of action for the trip home. After all, there’s no more reason for us to leave in a hurry than there was for us to show up down hereContinue reading “The Old Way Home”

The Enchanted Box

Dearest Rachel – It’s the kind of day that makes one not want to head outside. Oh, it’s not raining buckets like it was last year, when I found Chompers on the opposite side of the driveway, toppled over in his wheelchair in the gulley. It’s actually perfectly sunny outside; too much so, in fact.Continue reading “The Enchanted Box”

A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On

I’m going to do nothing, and I’m going to do it slowly. Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige, when asked what he planned to do once he retired from baseball Dearest Rachel – It was a quote that my dad always liked to repeat about what he planned on doing with retirement, and it was something that I,Continue reading “A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On”

Nerd Prom

Dearest Rachel – It never fails. You’d think that the convention would fill up the entirety of the Hyatt, where everything is based out of (or at least was, back in the old days. Nowadays, I suppose the convention center proper is the real hub for all the goings-on). Considering that the event books upContinue reading “Nerd Prom”

Travelling in Only One Direction

Dearest Rachel – Lars asked me yesterday, as we were walking through the forest preserve by Oakton College and Beck Lake, how much I’ve been telling you about what’s going on in my life. He suggests I not tell you quite as much as I do, if only for the fast that there are otherContinue reading “Travelling in Only One Direction”

This Was Different

Dearest Rachel – We’ve had mysterious visitations at our house from time to time since your passing. Some of them were serendipitous, like the balloon on my birthday. Some were deliberate, but anonymous, like the last couple of May Days. And then there was this: This was left on our doorstep yesterday afternoon. Someone hadContinue reading “This Was Different”

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”

from Rachel: (God Is Stronger than My Struggles) With Loneliness

Remember your loneliest time? What details made it particularly difficult? “My most alone time was last August (2013) when I vacationed alone for a week, but I relished in almost every minute of it. I think the times I feel loneliest are when I’m surrounded by people, but they are already all in groups conversing.Continue reading “from Rachel: (God Is Stronger than My Struggles) With Loneliness”

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”

It’s Never ‘Just Lunch’

Dearest Rachel – I really kind of expected it to be a shorter day, in terms of being out of the house, than most, since all I had planned for the day was to meet Lars for lunch in his neighborhood. Granted, the trip to his neighborhood required budgeting the better part of an hourContinue reading “It’s Never ‘Just Lunch’”

Are These ‘My’ People? Am I ‘Theirs’?

Dearest Rachel – So, last night was spent online with the group of VIP chatters from PJMedia. It’s another of my many efforts to kickstart a social life, now that mine no longer revolves around you, what with you being gone and all that. The strange thing is, I didn’t get involved in it forContinue reading “Are These ‘My’ People? Am I ‘Theirs’?”

Comic Timing

Dearest Rachel – They say the difference between drama and comedy is mostly a matter of timing. If that’s so, it would explain why I tend to be the straight man amongst our friends, despite being the ‘weird’ one among my colleagues. The day has been a series of mis-timed misadventures, so I figure IContinue reading “Comic Timing”

from Rachel (and family): Why?

“The ‘therefore’ in verse 10 is ‘dia touto,’ which is not the Greek word that refers back to the previous point; it is more like, ‘so, here’s what I’m saying… “Verses 11-13 were probably either the lyrics to an early Church hymn, or a creed the assembly would recite together. “Do I deny following JesusContinue reading “from Rachel (and family): Why?”

So Much For That

Dearest Rachel – It’s amazing, how fast things can change from one day to the next. One day, you think you have a whole lineup of plans for the foreseeable future; the next, so much of that list has been delayed, postponed or gone by the boards altogether. I don’t know when I first realizedContinue reading “So Much For That”

It’s Just Dinner…

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been led to understand that there is a dating service in the area called ‘It’s Just Lunch’, which is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin – a means for singles to get together with each other and just have lunch, without necessarily anything else to be behind it.Continue reading “It’s Just Dinner…”

from Rachel: God All-Knowing and All-Powerful / Letter to Kerstin

How often have you wondered if God knows what’s going on in your life? Your heart? Does He see what happens in your family? Can He have any idea about the struggles you face? Tell me your thoughts. “Wow! Those questions are a foreign concept to me. Each sounds completely ludicrous to my ears.” GodContinue reading “from Rachel: God All-Knowing and All-Powerful / Letter to Kerstin”

Amid the Ruins of the Pyramid

Dearest Rachel – Today’s sermon was about being friends with Jesus, using John the Baptist as an example. Interestingly, the main passage centered on the point when John was beginning to doubt as to whether Jesus was Who He said He was, even going so far as to send his own disciples to ask Him,Continue reading “Amid the Ruins of the Pyramid”

from Rachel: Sharing Your Life Message

Question to consider: As I reflect on my personal story, who would God want me to share it with? “5/26 “This question challenges me with the idea that I should perhaps be in one secular, worldly group (like Meg in her Wednesday morning bowling league) so that I could meet and establish friendships with womenContinue reading “from Rachel: Sharing Your Life Message”

A Call From Out of Nowhere

Dearest Rachel – This is why I answer the phone, regardless of whether i recognize the number or not. You just never know… This afternoon, the phone rang, and while the number didn’t look familiar, it was a Chicago number, so it wasn’t as if it was from just anywhere. To be sure, I didContinue reading “A Call From Out of Nowhere”

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”

Little Dollops of Catch-Up

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been amazed some days about how often I’m able to come up with a topic – or two, or three! – to talk to you about. It’s gotten to the point where, if I can’t come up with anything to relate, I get a little concerned. This is one of thoseContinue reading “Little Dollops of Catch-Up”

Replacing Chocolate

Dearest Rachel – You might remember, the last time we were on the island, we used up the last of one of the few remaining jars of Hershey’s spread on some marshmallows we placed in the toaster oven. Well, to be perfectly accurate, we put it on the graham crackers that we set atop thoseContinue reading “Replacing Chocolate”

A Question of Timing

Dearest Rachel – So often in life, things turn on a matter of timing. We are in the middle of the Olympics at the moment – not that anyone’s watching, as it seems to have been determined that neither China nor those that kowtow to it are worthy of support – where the difference betweenContinue reading “A Question of Timing”

Ask You No Questions

Dearest Rachel – I guess I should thank you for showing up last night (this morning?), despite the fact that I can’t seem to stop myself from asking you questions and breaking the spell. So if the dreams you appear in are all too short, I guess that’s on me. Anyway, I should get toContinue reading “Ask You No Questions”

Bluffing With Cards in Hand

Dearest Rachel – Well, sometimes these things resolve themselves. It turned out that, while Erin and Ellen weren’t going to be available, I got a text from Kerstin asking whether we were getting together Friday night – guess she was getting used to it being a weekly thing, for which I don’t blame her. SinceContinue reading “Bluffing With Cards in Hand”

Déjà Vu

Dearest Rachel – This weekend is going to be considerably quieter than the last few. After two weeks in a row, the girls won’t be coming over tonight (or next Friday, for that matter, if I recall correctly). It’s how scheduling goes, and that’s fine. I can’t expect them to be here every single week,Continue reading “Déjà Vu”

Define ‘Okay’

Dearest Rachel – The other night, I received one of those regular emails from Nightelf. You know the sort; the kind of elaborate narrative that inspired me to begin writing you – although what I lack in erudition, I try to make up for in quantity. Between a career in academia in certain other lifeContinue reading “Define ‘Okay’”

A Meal in Itself

Dearest Rachel – I try to remember some of the inside jokes we used to share with each other as opportunity presents itself, but sometimes, I don’t have quite what I need to put it together. For instance, this picture is as close as I can get to the particular joke I’m looking for, asContinue reading “A Meal in Itself”

Maple Sugar Club

Dearest Rachel – Well, this is one of those dreams that I wake up from wondering where it came from. I’m almost tempted to just say ‘forget about it,’ but it was so… realistic that I couldn’t seem to ignore it. One of the particularly odd things about it is that I haven’t even seenContinue reading “Maple Sugar Club”

“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””

Present People

Dearest Rachel – I’ve mentioned before to you that I’ve had some difficulty with regard to the traditional gift exchange that is a part of Christmas: what do I want, or more to the point, what can they get for me? Materially speaking, I have pretty much anything I need, and if Daniel or IContinue reading “Present People”

Muddling Through

Dearest Rachel – I have to confess that, as I was putting together yesterday’s letter, I was finding it paradoxically more difficult to write and complain about the songs the more I tried to do so. I was getting somewhat self-conscious about the self-pitying tone of my essay the further along I got. Between tryingContinue reading “Muddling Through”

Where’s the Lavender Soap?

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been told that the above expression, when mouthed, is indistinguishable from the phrase “where there’s life, there’s hope.” Beyond that, the title is only meaningful only insofar as its misreading. After venting my frustrations about what Daniel was or was not doing for himself in my absence, I think I managedContinue reading “Where’s the Lavender Soap?”

from Rachel: Created to Become Like Christ

“May 14 “Just when I had almost caught up, I come to two days too full to do more than read a page or two. Wednesday included a trip to the DMV and finishing my last BSF lesson. Thursday was my next-to-last BSF day, and then getting ready for the weekend because ACen begins today!Continue reading “from Rachel: Created to Become Like Christ”

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…”

from Rachel: Restoring Broken Fellowship

Question to consider: Who do I need to restore a broken relationship with today? “May 11 “Today, no one (as far as I am aware, anyway). “Tomorrow, next week, or next month – Sally – definitely my EGR (extra grace required) friend, but praise God, his grace is sufficient for me: plenty left to share.Continue reading “from Rachel: Restoring Broken Fellowship”

Settling For Less

Dearest Rachel – So, last night, the girls came over – probably for the last time for the next month. Since I had fixed a meal last time (well, sort of; I’d heated up a bunch of stuff that I’d gotten from Costco and whatever), I suggested that once we were assembled at the house,Continue reading “Settling For Less”

Waiting in Vain

Dearest Rachel – Well, I knew it was going to happen; or more to the point, it wasn’t going to happen. And yet, at the same time, it was necessary to be prepared. I’d gone out shopping a little more than a week ago for some candy to donate to the church for the wholeContinue reading “Waiting in Vain”

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”

Ore Wo Sagashite

Anata, Rei-sama – 私は自分が誰であるか、そして人生と愛から何を求めているかを発見する必要があります。 そうでなければ、私は自分が「めぐみ」を見て、彼女があなたかエリンのどちらかであることを願っていることに気付くかもしれません。 Okay… hopefully, I’ve put off all of those who might be scared off by the gratuitous Japanese. We can talk in reasonable privacy. I’m starting this letter I’m sitting on a park bench in Kimball Hill Park, staring at the fountain in the middle of the lake. You and IContinue reading “Ore Wo Sagashite”

Chick Magnet

Dearest Rachel – I doubt it’s only because he’s in town, but if I thought the girls would come over more often because he was, I’d invite Kevin to come back to the Chicago area on a more frequent basis. After all, this is the second time in a week they’ve been over, whereas it’sContinue reading “Chick Magnet”

Rules Lawyering

Dearest Rachel – So yesterday, being Sunday, was our usual game night. Only, it was anything but usual. What with Kevin being up here for the week, this was an opportunity for the four of us who have been meeting online to get together in person for the first time since the pandemic – andContinue reading “Rules Lawyering”

Almost Caught Flat-Footed

Dearest Rachel – Before I start on the topic at hand, I need to show you this, apropos of absolutely nothing else. This was the entirety of the mail today: Needless to say (did you ever notice that any time someone says that, they go ahead and say whatever it is anyway? Not that I’mContinue reading “Almost Caught Flat-Footed”

from Rachel: Becoming Best Friends with God

“May 4 “I read this chapter first thing in the morning, so I put on my fish ring as a reminder of God’s constant presence with me. Then, I decided to go one better, and I took my purple polish with me. While we were outside with the kids (Ladies Bible Study), I painted myContinue reading “from Rachel: Becoming Best Friends with God”

Trying to Think at Three a.m.

Dearest Rachel – There are some questions in my life that I can no longer give a straight answer to. “How are you doing?” Well, do you just wanna exchange pleasantries, or would you like an actual answer? “Can I help you?” Wow, do you really mean that? “Do you always respond to a questionContinue reading “Trying to Think at Three a.m.”

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”

Not the Best of Hosts

Dearest Rachel – Well, the girls came over last night. It’ll be the last time for the better part of a month, as Ellen will be out of town visiting her mom next week, and then I’ll be in Colorado on this men’s retreat the next. So, three weeks until next time. Clever me, IContinue reading “Not the Best of Hosts”

Sunday Rush

Dearest Rachel – After a couple of days of relative quiet upon enrolling on this dating app, starting this morning, things went somewhat crazy. I’m not complaining, exactly, but the ‘feast or famine’ situation – if this is what the typical experience is like – is a bit disorienting. As I mentioned previously, for theContinue reading “Sunday Rush”

The Things Mine Eyes Have Seen

Dearest Rachel – I never got around to telling you about this, but when we were down at Kevin’s over Memorial Day weekend, I broke down and got a copy of Minecraft. Somehow, he figured out how to set up a server, and the three of us just started digging around (in survival mode, noContinue reading “The Things Mine Eyes Have Seen”

Losing Track

Dearest Rachel – It was probably a bad call on my part, but I decided not to walk to the ‘office’ this morning. Well, there was a reason behind it: I had assumed I’d be walking this evening with Erin at Melas Park. But you know that old saying about what happens when you assumeContinue reading “Losing Track”

One Last Task

Dearest Rachel – And so it ends. As I said, the convention always ends on an anti-climax. Not with a bang, but a whimper, just like the end of the world. But there’s always something that needs doing, and since we always contemplated the idea of doing… something… it falls to me one more timeContinue reading “One Last Task”

Tetris Skillz

Dearest Rachel – “Use your Tetris skills!” Jeff says. You have no idea how much I miss you right now. There must be about a dozen of us here, guys coming straight from the Saturday morning Bible study, to help a couple move out. All this stuff is going into storage, at least for theContinue reading “Tetris Skillz”

Do You Have to Study to Pass the Bechdel Test?

Dearest Rachel – I can’t recall if you’re familiar with the concept of the Bechdel Test. At its most basic, it’s meant to be a measure of the representation of female characters in a work of fiction. The idea is that in order to pass, such a work needs to a.) have at least twoContinue reading “Do You Have to Study to Pass the Bechdel Test?”

No Ticket to Oz

Dearest Rachel – It was storming terribly last night, dear. Our home security system by the front door was beeping like a combination alarm clock and a forklift stuck in reverse, and no amount of money going forward and typing in the password which shut it up for more than five minutes, before it wouldContinue reading “No Ticket to Oz”

Nothing Too Out of the Ordinary

Dearest Rachel – So what can I tell you about a day like today? The thing is, some days are… not all that remarkable. They may be eventful, but there’s not much to really say about them. And this has been one of those days. The morning started out with nothing all that out ofContinue reading “Nothing Too Out of the Ordinary”

from Rachel: False Accusations

Can you think of a time when you were falsely accused of something? “Yes and no (Something I totally didn’t do, only by Jokun, doing on purpose with hurtful motives, something I did carelessly, lots of times)” What was the outcome? “(hiccup cured) With Sally we would eventually reconcile, the one time with Suzy, itContinue reading “from Rachel: False Accusations”

Longer Than Intended, But Never Long Enough

Dearest Rachel – It’s a good thing that, back when ours was a long-distance relationship only in terms of physical distance, I didn’t use titles for each letter. Well… that’s not entirely accurate, as the mix tapes that accompanied most of our letters (from each of us) did have titles we’d given them, but itContinue reading “Longer Than Intended, But Never Long Enough”

Without the Guest of Honor

Dearest Rachel – So. After planning off and on for the better part of a week, we’re actually holding your birthday party. Just… without you. No singing “Happy Birthday,” either. Not only aren’t you here to hear it, but that song sets Daniel off, as you well know. His synesthesia causes him to have perfectContinue reading “Without the Guest of Honor”

At the End of the Day

Dearest Rachel – I’ve never been much for making friends, especially once we got married. After all, I thought, I had you, my best friend in the whole world. What more could I possibly need or want? Now, you had your friends, both old ones that came up to the area at around the sameContinue reading “At the End of the Day”

Ceding Territory

Dearest Rachel – Given the limited amount of human contact he engages in these days, I know full well I have no right to object to the days when his friend Logan comes over. The thing is, Logan himself has said – even since the accident – how “welcoming” our home is, and I certainlyContinue reading “Ceding Territory”

One Final Trip (part 1)

Dearest Rachel – I have yet to find a place that can open your phone up and download the data from it – the last place I went to only seemed to work on actual smart phones (which you forever resisted getting – guess that might have been a good plan at this point) –Continue reading “One Final Trip (part 1)”

Chasing the Sandman

Dearest Rachel – Does it still count as sleep if, while your body lies there, recumbent in bed, your mind is spinning like tires stuck in the snow? Because I don’t know the answer; all I know is that I don’t want to get up yet. The girls came over last night, just to hangContinue reading “Chasing the Sandman”

“Sister Repellant”

Dearest Rachel – You can tell from the title what this is about, can’t you? Yep, I’d cleared a spot on the stove for ourselves, and I decided to cook last night. Black bean soup, one of our old favorites. Always welcome during the cold winter months. Wonder why I haven’t made it earlier… InContinue reading ““Sister Repellant””