*I had initially intended on posting a story I wrote based on my first reading of "Dear Erin ... To Learn or Ignore?" but upon my second reading, this is what came out. In my mind it came out of "nowhere." My great writing mentor Pat Berge however, once taught me that sometimes nowhere produces the best kind of writing--or perhaps the most sincere ...
I’ve been wondering what it was about this last post on “our blog,” that has had me twisted in an emotional pretzel all week. I read your letter about the fish tank analogy in the not too distant past. I cried when I read it then, and yes, I cried when I read it again. But there was something else in the cry this time.
It was something in the carelessness of the stack of letters I’ve kept from you all these years. Amidst the untidy stack, I noticed a phone number for “Sears Portraits” scribbled in pink highlighter across one of the letters you wrote. Others had liquid-stained splotches and still others had corners missing, and/or the paper was crumpled.
I was seized with guilt as I re-read your beautiful words about humanity, fish and God. I doubt I ever read that letter at the time you intended me to read it. If I did, it was far beyond my incapacitated, juvenile, and alcohol-drenched brain to comprehend. I didn’t give a damn about choices then, unless it involved instant gratification, which typically involved choosing between one sort of destructive behavior and another. My only choice then, was to make the choice that would make me forget about you ... and the disease. So, it was easier I suppose, to cast your decadent words aside and trample them with pink highlighter, liquid spills and crumples.
For all my short-sightedness, I’m thankful I saved the letters. Maybe both of us hoped in the back of our minds I would. Maybe one or the both of us had enough ingenuity to foresee that your letters would serve a greater purpose and enlightenment at a later time.
More than being sorry I didn’t read the letter (I just posted) for so long, I’m sorry it took so long to write back. I want you to know: I think I understand what you mean about consciousness and to a lesser degree, about God. I know much more about choices now, and you will be pleased to know those in front of me today are infinitely better than when your letter first came to me. I am working on resisting the urge to flee from that big hand that dips into my fish tank, realizing that maybe I’m being spiritually fed rather than terrorized. I hope you take a little comfort Mom, as I do, in that I want to learn from all this—you, ALS, alcoholism. My days of travel on the path of ignorance and denial are over. Thank you for loving me before I was able to make the right choices.
I love you,