Rachel's LetterPoem

Rachel's Letter at the Second Year Anniversary

Dear Kath, Flip, Diane, Di & Staci,

This is the letter that I sent out in honor of Paul's anniversary: you already know all

of the informational stuff, but you certainly deserve the same thanks for being such

an important part of these past two years!

March 22 will be the second anniversary of Paul's death-a day that feels to me like both a

minute and a millennium ago. So much of this second year has been about no longer withdrawing

into my grief, but becoming part of the living world again. It seemed appropriate to mark

the part of this anniversary that is mine with an effort to reach out, to begin to reconnect

with the people and aspects of my life that I can still get back.

I feel so grateful to everyone who has sustained and supported me over the past two years.

I want to thank all of you who have kept me going with your love, your listening, your words,

your presence, even your helplessness and your anger. It is no exaggeration that I would

not be here today without it. Of course, we also mourn the deaths of Chuck Drake and Josh Hane,

whose friendships during the three months they lived after Paul did were invaluable to me.

Amazingly, today I finally feel that I have returned to living like a regular person. I

constantly marvel at what a gift it is to just be normal. I am working full time in the

field of my choice: teaching drama at Youth Theatre Northwest, where my students range

in age from 4 to 15, as well as running the theatre's Outreach Education program and teaching

in local schools. I am also writing my fifth script for Living Voices, a second Holocaust

piece about the Warsaw ghetto resistance movement, which is being commissioned by the

Museum of Tolerance in LA. My four other Living Voices shows continue to play around the

country. I have a new group of friends here in Seattle, including some other young widows.

I go out to plays and movies and concerts and restaurants. I take dance and yoga classes.

I'm having fun again! I've even gotten involved with a wonderful man named Ben. Being in

a new and increasingly serious relationship is frequently challenging and occasionally

terrifying, but Ben's infinite patience, generosity and understanding have made it

possible. All of these new people in my life accept me for who I am now, which is

sometimes jarring when I think about how different I have become.


The changes of the past two years have been bittersweet. It's not the same life I

used to have, nor am I the same, and the ghosts of Paul are still present-even if

they no longer feel like a knife in my heart. I live with his cat, his Miles Davis

poster, his music, his memories. All winter, I wear the warm green sweater he picked

out himself, and when I get compliments on it (as I often do), I am secretly glad for

the chance to speak of him-even if I don't mention his name. I am happy to carry these

pieces of Paul with me. He will always have a place in my life. So I thank you again

for your very important part in bringing me here. I hope this March 22 finds all of you

well-and maybe thinking in some small way about where this second year has brought you.

I hope that the coming year will bring us closer together and not further apart. Perhaps

this letter can be the first step.


March 1998

Rachel's boyfriend died at the age of 28.
Rachel's e-mail address

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