I lost you just three days ago. The pain remains as intense as it was that first day. Right now it feels as though there will never be any relief from this pain. The hole in my life your absence has created is immense, bigger than I ever could have imagined. That aching emptiness consumes me. Only now do I fully understand how completely my whole world revolved around you. At the service for you yesterday, I stood before our loved ones and told them of the difference you made in my life. Many have talked of your bigger than life personality. Of your incredible vibrancy and boundless enthusiasm for life. So I told them about how my personality is so very different from yours. I told them of the brightness, color, enthusiasm, and energy you brought into my life, where before my existence was sorely lacking in those qualities. I said that you changed my life. You changed me. You made me a better person, albeit one still with many shortcomings. I also told our families that I would never forget you, and that I would always try to honor your memory.
Rachael, regarding that last sentiment, I will try my very best, within my pitiful limitations, to do just that. You were an idealist and I admire that about you. It’s not overstating it one little bit to say that you had a higher level of ideals than anyone I’ve ever met. There’s no way I could ever quite live up to the standard you set, but I do promise you that I will try. Some days, maybe many days, I will fall short. But on every succeeding day I will try to do better. I will try to do better, and I will strive to do things that would make you proud. These things will be done in your name, and in each case I will make it known that it could not have happened without you. You will continue to make a difference through me, just as you continue now to make a difference in all the wonderful and treasured memories everyone who loves you will carry with them for the rest of their days.
Rachael, I am so sorry you couldn’t have stayed with me here longer. I wish I could have stopped what happened to you somehow. I feel that I have failed you. People tell me this is not the truth, that I did everything I possibly could for you. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, I don’t know. I always told myself to try harder, to do better, to do right by you. And I did try. But it still couldn’t keep you here, and so, yes, I feel like I failed. That may make no logical sense. I am not God. I had no power over the disease that took you. On some level, I recognize this. But that feeling of coming up short persists regardless.
Rachael, the memory of what you endured, especially in your last months and weeks, is so very painful, so much so that I am not sure I can withstand it. No one should have to go through what you went through, but it seems particularly unfair that it could happen to someone as loving, sweet, generous, and kind as you. I can’t think of how the disease ravaged your poor little body without wanting to cry. The memory of the constant agony you were in causes me physical pain. I remember how you would cry out to me even in your sleep, and that also hurts. You counted on me to protect you and help you feel better in various ways, but in the end none of it worked anymore. It hurt so much to hear those cries of my name and know there was nothing I could do. I think of how you would say “owie” like a little girl when you were having excruciating pain, and that also makes me want to cry. I think it always will. You suffered so many horrible indignities, and the memory of those things makes me feel a deep anger in addition to the emotional misery. It is fundamentally WRONG that you had to endure those things. It is rage without a target--who do I blame for those awful things?--and therefore there is nowhere to discharge it. So I’m afraid I will always carry that anger with me as well. Again, I wish I could have stopped it. I wish I could wipe it all away, make it so that none of it ever happened. But I can’t. I just can’t, and that also makes me want to cry. There is scant consolation to be had in any of this, but if there is any, it lies in the fact that you are feeling none of those things any longer. You are not hurting now. I wish you were still here. I wish you could stay with me forever. But you’re not hurting. The agony and the suffering are over. Rachael, baby, I’m glad you’re not hurting now.
Rachael, as we discussed several times, none of us are really sure what comes after this life ends. I know that after lifetimes of a professed disbelief in an afterlife, we both did open ourselves to the possibility of there being something else out there. I remember being out in our back yard one night with our dogs and staring up at all the stars in a very clear sky. I thought of how vast and mysterious this universe is and how there is so much we don’t know or understand about our existence. In a place so vast, there are possibilities beyond anything we could ever imagine. Potentially strange and wonderful things. So we had to allow for the possibility that maybe we had been wrong all along, and that perhaps there is something else beyond this hard life on earth. And so it is my fondest and most sincere wish that you are somewhere better now. That you are in a place where you know only joy and are forever free of pain of any kind.
I love you, Rachael. I love you more than I have ever loved anyone or anything. I will never stop missing you. I hope somehow you are able to know of these words. That you hear me talking to you. Maybe you can. Somehow. Know this above all else, then. Despite the pain I feel, I will always be grateful that you shared your life with me for these last twelve years. I am grateful that you were able to be with me for as long as you were. Thank you for living with me and loving me. There is no way I could ever equal or repay what you gave me, but I am so grateful to you.
Rest in peace, sweet Rachael. Rest in peace.