Letter to Brian: July 8, 2016

Dear Brian,

It’s a strange feeling having so many millions of thoughts running about in your head but feeling absolutely incapable of finding any of the words needed to adequately articulate those thoughts.  It’s like those horrible dreams when you find yourself completely immobilized and unable to move in the face of danger… all you can do is watch yourself stand there, frozen, as some unnamed attacker closes in on you.

The events of the past few days, with more civilians being gunned down at routine traffic stops and with snipers intentionally gunning down police officers in response, have only weakened my already fragile heart.  There’s so much unnecessary violence and hatred.  I just don’t understand it.  And I’m finding it so difficult to find any shred of hope that our world will be able to undo all the damage we’ve done; not only to one another but to our physical environment and to the animals that require it for their survival.

Each and every time I hear yet another story about people acting out against one another in hatred and violence I recall these words you sent to me shortly before you took your life:

“It’s been a constant battle for me nearly every day, and I found myself struggling more and more as I got older. I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the future of the world, and that makes it so much harder to try to cope with people and the way they can be. As the years have gone by, I’ve had more and more trouble trying to feel happiness. At best, I can only see that I’ll grow old and more depressed, and at worst I can be unhappy while I watch the world undo itself.”

Your words still haunt me every single day.  Admittedly, I still read that letter now and again and it never gets any easier, dude. Your pain was so palpable and I can’t deny that I still feel each word so deeply, as if I had written them myself.  With each and every single announcement of another mass shooting, of increasing government corruption, of the exploitation of children, of people using religion as a basis for their hate of people who are different, of gang violence, of civilians and cops shooting one another, of hatred towards other races and far too many others to list… I hear your voice in my head repeating, “the world is undoing itself… the world is undoing itself.”  It has been doing so for years but there is just something in my soul that is causing me to fear things have gone too far to turn around.  I want to be hopeful, I really do… and maybe it’s my own depression talking, but it’s becoming so hard to remain hopeful.

And I can’t ignore the shocking similarities between your words and the words of the tenderhearted giant John Coffey in the movie “The Green Mile” when it came time for his own execution:

“I want it to be over and done with.  I do. I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’s going to or coming from, or why. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?”

I can’t believe I hadn’t identified that connection before but now it’s so glaringly obvious to me.  In the film,  John is about to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit and his soon-to-be executioner is trying to grapple with how he’ll ever manage to live with himself after killing an innocent and deeply loving man with a beautiful heart.  But he is assured by Mr. Coffey that death will, indeed, be a kindness brought upon him as he is just so tired of the suffering he endures every single day. As I’m typing this, it occurs to me that while watching that scene in the movie my heart was so heavy as I watched this man suffering so much that he just wanted someone to humanely end the pain for him.  I understood then.  I understood when you needed your own pain to end.  I still understand today.

I have some news for you, too.  I’ve decided to move back to Minnesota, dude.  The kitties and I are leaving Texas in a few weeks!  It brings me comfort to know that people that knew and loved you and Mooooomie will be near to me again.  I’ve made some incredible friends here in Texas but there is something to be said about the extra-special nature of friendships and relationships that go back many, many years.  I think I’m finally at the point where being closer to the people and places you both loved are no longer painful but bring more of a wistful longing of sorts; being near those people and places seem to make you guys feel a little less far away.

It gives me hope that I have some positive changes to look forward to now.  I recently reconnected with a dear family member whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years and I’m grateful that I’ll be able to spend more time with her now that I’ll be much closer.  I’ve missed the four seasons so much that this fall I have a feeling I’ll be spending nearly all of my spare time outside just sitting somewhere near the river and staring at the landscapes splashed in streaks of red, orange and gold.  I think I’ll probably even find myself walking alone some night after a snowfall when the world is asleep and is so quiet I’ll actually be able hear the snowflakes hitting the ground if I stop to listen closely.  I can imagine myself sitting in a comfortable chair, reading a book and listening to a spring thunderstorm moving through town.  And I know there will be a lot of good times with my old friends and the new ones I’ll make.

And I found a job, dude!  I was so nervous because, as much as I hate to admit it, these words that ‘you-know-who’ said to me a few months back were still buzzing around in my head: “Don’t quit your job though because with all the things you say about yourself to the whole world will find its way to prospective employers. They check on that now. I suggest you no longer write a blog like the one today because do you think an employer would hire you after reading that stuff??”  Those are not words you say to someone you care about.  Those are not words you say to someone you want to uplift.  Encourage.  Support.  And that’s OK.  I have unending support from so many people.  It was their words that I took with me to my interviews– the ones that said, You are kind.  You are capable.  You are deserving. You can do this.”

Am I flawed?  Absolutely.  Who isn’t? But I am also honest, smart, hard-working, reliable and independent.  And I’m also stronger than those words that tried to tell me otherwise.

I’m sorry I haven’t written more lately, things have been pretty busy and pretty complicated.  But I’m looking forward to being home.  I miss you and Momma every minute, dude.

All my love,
Laura