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Rachel Remains a Big Part of Our Lives

April 1, 2016 @ No Comments

It has been such a long time since I last sat down at the computer and typed words for this site. Almost a year ago. I can rationalize any inactivity because of the death of daughter Rachel. Exactly a year ago.

April 1, 2015.

I will remember that date for as long as I live because that is the day Rachel stopped living. Death during an outpatient procedure. No anticipation, no warning of anything catastrophic as she was wheeled into the room where she was to undergo what amounts to a colonoscopy for people who have had their personal plumbing reconfigured.

Rachel and Tyler as cute as can be (March 2015).

Rachel and Tyler as cute as can be (March 2015).

A year later, the pain persists. Uncontrollable sobbing on a daily basis in the immediate aftermath of her death has yielded to more subtle suffering.

If she only could be around to see this or that or to enjoy this occasion or to know how much she is missed or loved or ….

If she only could see her brother Mark and sister-in-law Sara enjoying life in California or go to St. Louis for Thanksgiving or ….

So we prefer to think that maybe — just maybe (OK, not maybe but more like definitely) — there is an afterlife and somehow she can see how people whom she loved have persevered in her absence. There have been enough occurrences/coincidences to make us think that Rachel really is looking from above (or wherever folks inhabiting the afterlife exist).

We like to imagine somehow she is taking some pleasure in knowing her husband and son have managed to plow ahead — with little guy Tyler kissing the photo of him and mommy good night each evening before he goes to bed.

We like to think remarkable Rachel can see how many people are needed to handle what she single-handedly would do to take care of husband Brad, Tyler and assorted other family members.

Her mom and I still keep waiting for Rachel to walk through the door of our home and light up our lives. And I’m sure other people whom she touched feel similarly.

The heartache continues, as I’m sure it will until our hearts no longer beat.

And, yes, I realize we are not the first to have lost a child. And, yes, we are grateful to have had her in our lives for 35 years. Even so, I don’t think it’s terrible selfish to have wanted to have her around for many more years. After all, who is going to tell me in my someday senility as I sit on a couch that the baseball game is on television for my viewing pleasure? Never mind that it might be the middle of winter when she offers such assurances.

For many months after Rachel’s death, I would sit down at the computer and late at night type out words to recount life without her. Sometimes my ramblings would be of happenings that indicated Rachel somehow still was in our lives — even if we could not see her. Sometimes my ramblings would be of the difficulty in dealing with her death.

There came a point when I stopped the late-night writing. Not sure whether it was a case of paralysis (mental, emotional, whatever), exhaustion or stagnation.

In the Jewish tradition, I recited Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, on a daily basis. My year of reciting the prayer is over. My grieving is not. At some point perhaps (I have no idea when or if it will occur in my lifetime), the grieving and the pain and the heartache will go away. I’m not sure that ever will happen, but who knows?

What I do know is we love Rachel and miss her.

So many memories of her make us smile and feel good. Which is why today in particular we feel so bad.

Here’s to a better tomorrow.

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© 2017 Elliott Harris.