Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Shower The People (You Love With Love)

Dear Rachel,

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. I can't remember the last time you celebrated with us. Certainly not since we moved from San Diego to Nebraska in 1992. You always came out to see us for Christmas, but either spent Thanksgiving with your mom & grandparents in San Diego or out in Virginia Beach. So tomorrow really shouldn't feel any different than any other year. Except, of course, it will. It already does. The holiday season has begun and not surprisingly it's affecting my mood.

I think of you every single day and almost every waking moment of the day. It's not an obsessive feeling, but you are always in my thoughts. More so than Amy. Or Shaylyn. Or my parents. Or even Rod. It's as if you've taken up residence on my shoulder, gently nudging me to get my attention. A presence, some would say. Are you there? Are you making sure I don't forget about you? Trust me, that will never, ever happen.

Yesterday was a bad day. I was out running errands and decided to stop at a little gift shop that I used to take Maddie into when she lived in that particular neighborhood. The woman who owns the store is just the nicest person. About my age and someone I've always felt would be a good friend. She always takes time to chat with me, asking about Maddie & Emily if they weren't with me. She met Amy one Christmas and has asked about her every time since then. She never met you or Shaylyn, but she knew of you and never failed to ask to see the latest pictures of The Little Princess and her mommy.

I've driven by the shop several times since last May and just wasn't ready to venture inside and have to explain the sad news. Rod and I both struggle with this issue - at what point do we just say hi and respond to "How's it going?" with "OK, how are you?" rather than spend the next twenty minutes talking about you. If it's someone I know, but not well enough to already know the sad news, it can go either way. By not saying anything about your death, it feels like I'm ignoring the past 24 years of your life, wiping your existence off the board. But do I really want to bring it all up and go through the emotional drain that always follows? Is it cathartic or self-inflicted torture?

I had decided not to say anything, but of course my feeble attempt to be in control failed when she asked about Maddie & Emily. I wound up telling her about Chris' cancer and after a heavy sigh, went on to talk about your murder. We both cried and she hugged me and it was emotionally draining, but it felt like the right thing to do -- to be honest with someone who's a bit more than an acquaintance, yet not a friend (I don't even know her last name). I don't feel compelled to tell a cashier at the grocery store or a waiter at a restaurant, but in a situation like this I think I made the right choice.

Probably ruined her evening, too, but she did say that she was going to go home and tell her two daughters how much she loves them and give them both a hug and kiss.

I wonder if she truly realizes how very lucky she is.

All my love,



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