Here's a picture of Rachel with her son, Jacob (I obviously picked this for Rachel, as Jacob looks as if his gruntle has been dissed):
Here's one of her partying with her friend, Ritchie:
Ironically--isn't everything ironic?--on the last day I blogged I was to later receive the incomprehensible news that my eldest, Rachel, had died the night before.
Rachel, my little blue-eyed lamb with the beautiful coppery hair. She apparently died on the evening of July 29 and was discovered by a neighbor the following morning. It was not suicide, it was an accident. A coroner’s report is pending.
Rachel was 29, a single mother embroiled in a custody battle with a man who promised to marry her but continually added conditions to the prospect until it was unattainable. Not one for whom adult responsibilities came easy, I was so very proud that she proved she could handle them.
When visiting her apartment the day before the viewing, one daughter of mine said to the other: “So who gets the piano?” “Only Papa plays,” said the second. “Will you take it, Papa?”
Whereupon someone else said, “Yeah, let’s see if it’ll fit in your van.”
I never thought about whether I wanted this ancient spinet. But it was far easier to say, “Yes” than dispute the direction of others, so I ended up driving its tonnage through the curving two-lanes of the Redwoods and on home.
She was the most beautiful of children. Her pediatrician, who had two of her own, called her “one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen.”
Indeed. Rachel grew up irresistible, irrepressible, with a smile sweeter than an apricot, her hair thrown into Shirley Temple coils by the least humidity. I loved to watch her hair change hues through the sun’s daily arc. She was the most trusting of souls. She was the sort of person who would always trade her cow for some magic beans, never questioning the other's motive.
This was Rachel’s favorite of my poems:
By repetition noise escapes us:
the dishwasher’s cycling, the radio’s drone,
the whine of sirens over the shuffle of traffic,
the refrigerator's hum, all
inhibit alarm by repetition.
in the deep recess of impression
the same damaged record spins
until we no longer notice the crackle
because it is too familiar.
Listen: I give you the soft carpet
of diminished volume, no sound now,
no sound but your heart pumping
and your lungs filling
as in surf throbbing
and breathing through
the polished sand.
Listen to your own Atlantis
wreathed in kelp and coral:
Beneath the green depths
your quiet is unspoken,
given by the blank waters.
You have no tongue to disturb
the imperturbable earth’s revolution
moving with some silent purpose.
She was verbally and mathematically gifted and could understand nearly any poem after one reading, puzzled that her sisters didn't get it so quickly.
When I was trying to explain to my grandson about his mother’s death, I showed him a picture of Rachel on my knee and told him that just as he was her child, so she had been my child.
“Jacob,” I said, “I’m so sorry that you lost your mother.”
Avoiding eye contact and splitting his attention between a toy in his lap and a video, Jacob replied: “I’m sorry that your daughter died.”
Jacob is five.
Everything is new now. I drive into town and notice things I never noticed before; formerly familiar clerks are re-examined like potential aliens. Actually everything is alien.
I wander in a world so changed even the most basic of facts seems questionable. I think of myself in the third person a lot. While weeping I sometimes imagine how I look weeping and whether my grief is only a show—even though I am most often alone when I weep.
Such thoughts are remnants of my depression.
Thank God my psychiatric medications began to work three days before I heard of Rachel's death, and that so far my precarious chemical status has held. I can’t imagine what this experience would be like if complicated by self-doubts about the authenticity of my grief, in view of the depersonalization that depression and grief share. Depressed, the sufferer often thinks he's only "faking it." Thank God that due to medications I know I’m not.
As for tragedy, I've learned never to ask "Why?" The Book of Job cured me of that.
When Job argued with God about "undeserved" tragedy, God said: “Can you make this whale swim in a direction you prefer? Can you put a ring in the nose of a giant warhorse and guide him? Can you instruct a crocodile?”
Job sees God's sovereignty and gives up his complaints. “Who am I,” he says, “to claim to understand the Almighty? I repent in dust and ashes.”
What makes Job indispensable to any religion is his courage to confront God with the very principles God had ostensibly taught him. Job, and even more his notorious "comforters" were guilty of the illusion that success in this world is a sign of God’s favor. Jesus knew that one by heart: “He maketh the sun to rise on the just and the unjust.”
Whatever the horrors of this world, I cling to the irrational belief that God is God, as Job teaches, and that God is Love, as the Apostle John wrote. His justice is greatly overrated as having any influence in this world, though there’s always talk about a future reckoning. But if God is indeed Love, who cares about a future reckoning?
Who ya gonna believe? The truth or your lying eyes? Aye, there’s the rub.
I believe Rachel continues and is at peace. In my heart’s heart I feel assured of this, a certainty based neither upon the psychosis of a manic-depressive nor the wish-fulfillment of a devastated parent.
If anyone would like to attend, or send cards and flowers, Rachel’s memorial service will be held on August 18, 2 PM, at
Grace Lutheran Church.
6931 Edinger Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Phone: (714) 897-0361
If a donation is preferred, please send one on her behalf to TARA.
In grief and shock but kiloneutral,
"Dr. Papa Craig"