“The proper definition of a man is an animal that writes letters.”
So…I FINALLY got the important letter that I’ve been trying to write for six weeks out in the mail. I mailed to my attorney on Monday, after he sent a text last Friday, politely letting me know he STILL hadn’t received it.
It was my idea, really, so I’d expected be more on the ball. But it was really, really hard to write.
I wanted to get a letter to the other driver. I put it off for a long time, waiting for the legalities to unfold. I’m sure it would have been a different letter at every point in the journey. But since we are rapidly approaching the two-year mark, the window is closing. The lawyer advised that its best to send it through him.
I had a half-finished version I was mostly okay with—matter of fact and to the point—but then I offered Maki the chance to write one too. I was surprised how quickly he agreed to it—he had it ready to send two days later. But reading his letter made me realize more what he was going through. It was a powerful statement.
He was given one chance to say what he really wanted to say, and he said it well. His letter made me question my own: “If I have one chance to reach out to them, just one page full of words, how can I say it? There’s so much!” It’s not that there is so much to say as much as what I’m feeling was changing so often. One day, I felt gracious and hopeful, and on another, I felt angry or fed-up. The extreme ups and downs of Vernon’s health the past couple of months threw off my emotions and my intentions.
Now it seems that frequently, people in elevated places of society can get away with saying anything they like, no matter how mean-spirited or petty, and suffer no consequence, at least to themselves. But the rest of us don’t get that reality. What we say (especially if its important and we have one chance to say it) DOES have consequences. I can’t count the times I’ve regretted my words after blurting out some emotional opinion. I realized I needed to write a letter I felt good about….one that I’ll feel good about later if it comes up again. And hopefully it will lean more to the side of making things better than making things worse.
But then, a couple weeks ago, when Vernon was starting to show more psychological understanding, I mentioned my predicament with this letter. He said he wanted to read it, and I just so happened to have my laptop with me. I wasn’t sure how much he would comprehend, and I certainly didn’t want him getting upset over something in it. But he was amazing. He seemed to follow pretty well, and then pointed out the parts he thought I should omit. Granted, I knew better to take what he said as absolute wisdom, but it felt good to connect over something like this. So I took those parts out and kept the parts he approved of. Since then, I changed a few more things, but tried to keep the tone of his input. I wrote about Maki, I wrote about Vernon. I tried not to write much about myself. In this way, they both helped me shape what I most wanted to say. They helped me connect.
So it’s done. This big thing on the list. I don’t know if anything will come of it. Vernon reminded me not to expect that. But we’ve put our words out, together as a family. Though we could have each written a hundred different letters depending on the day we were having, we sent off letters we feel good about. It took time and too much thinking (for me, anyway), and hopefully, we made something better instead of making it worse.
PS Thank you to the close friends who read the drafts along the way…and thank you for your feedback. Even with Vernon’s input, I couldn’t have finished this without your help. Lesson learned: don’t ever write the most important letters alone.