Dear Man With Gun,

I’ve heard you for years. Black gloved knuckles breaking window. White plastic card slinking through lock. Brown leather boots tiptoeing up carpeted stairs.

What I hear next, after the metallic click of your weapon, is always the sound of my voice. Not screaming, not begging. But talking you out of it.

Because I write fiction, you see.

And a fictive world, misterpresident and misterlawmaker, is the only place in the world where victims can say something to stop their shooters.

Very sincerely,

Novelist

P.S.  If you see something, legislate something. IMG_0649

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Old Former Athletes,

Stop.

Stop pushing through the pain, stop sprinting uphill, stop gasping.

I see you everywhere, taped up, red-faced, contorted, pounded, gritted.  There are gentler ways to move ancient joints.  There are kinder paths to heart health.

The next time you obsess over the words of your old coach, who told you to get back out and do it again . . .   remember the words of your English teacher, who told you to sit down and read.

Very sincerely,

Old Yogi

IMG_0099

 

Dear Black Man at Gas Station,

twilightinstaIt was dawn, and I was alone. Alone until you were there, suddenly, at my shoulder.

You passed by me so close, I saw your shadow. I smelled your soap. You were simply walking between the pumps after paying inside, and I know you saw me flinch.  A suburban, cocooned, white flinch.

I know you did.

You smiled and said, “Guess we’re the only fools out at this hour.”

“Looks like it,” I replied.

I took a bag of trash out of my car.

“Time to clean up? I need to do that, too,” you said, still smiling.

“I needed to do it about a month ago,” I confessed.

This is what it’s like, I thought. You felt a need to represent.  To change perceptions.  To keep me from flinching again.

We wished each other a happy new year.

And you drove away, in your shiny new black Lexus, leaving me there in my dirty white used Acura.

Sincerely,

White Woman

 

Dear Daughter’s Ex-Boyfriend,

You are not my boyfriend.

But how I wish I had a boyfriend like you when I was young.  Who carried you inside when you are sick.  Who gave thoughtful presents. Who wrote tender love notes.

And you are not my son.

Smart.  Conversant on any subject.  A writer of thank yous.  A bringer of hostess gifts.

But I mourn you now as a little  bit of each — the boyfriend I never had.  The son I never had.

There is a hole in my Christmas list.  There is an empty seat at the table.

I tell my daughters, this is not about me.  This is about you.  What’s right for you.  What I feel doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter, but it IMG_1664does hurt.

Very sincerely,

Mother of only girls

Dear Mom and Daughters On Rented Bikes,

cami.sandYou stopped at my house.

You asked if my oldest daughter was with me this summer. Or the middle one. Or the youngest one.

Your shoulders dropped two inches when I said no. That they were in other cities, working other jobs. Not here, babysitting, just when you needed one.

I said I was sorry, that I would tell them you said hello, and you rode away.

But afterwards, I couldn’t forget the droop in your posture. You looked hot, tired, overwhelmed.

And I wished I had said what I am thinking now: I’ll watch your kids for you.

Because I miss mine. And someday, you’ll miss yours too.

Very sincerely,

Mom on the porch

Dear Mom,

ImageDear Mom,

 

Please don’t be upset. Please don’t be jealous that I am having brunch with my mother-in-law today.

Women remain competitive still, don’t we? Into our fourth decade, fifth, or yes, even your seventh.

We haven’t learned – still we bristle, gossip, snipe.

At how unfair it all is. That some get more. Some stay beautiful, some stay well.

Some linger on, without memory, mobility, joy.

And some, like you, are taken earlier, for no reason.

The pretty ones, the smart ones, the ones who work hardest and deserve it all, don’t always win. Haven’t we learned that yet?

You are gone, and you are loved, grieved, remembered, I promise.

But my mother-in-law is the one who lingers. And if she could look in my eyes, if she could finish all the broken sentences she starts,

she might say she is not the luckier one. She might say you are.

 

Happy Mother’s Day.  

Love,

Your daughter

Dear 2014,

_jiohugyfvjh 293Dear 2014,

Let us shine this year.  Never alone, but in a field of lights that support and don’t judge and don’t compete for space that is infinite. Let us create not a perfect circle, manufactured and measured, but one that is singular, gauzy at the edges and lopsided, built from childlike inspiration. Let us flare with laughter, let us streak through the sky with original gestures. Let us glow with all of who we are.  Let us be seen and enjoyed and remarked upon. Let us not burn out.

Very sincerely,

Writers

 

Dear Oncology Specialist,

mittDear Oncology Specialist,
You blink at me when I ask about my throwing arm.

YOU see a middle-aged patient who is apparently ungrateful for her minimal scars and clear margins and get-out-of-chemo-free card.  ME? I know yoga and dance can be modified. I can already reach to some degree, support some weight. The handstands and backbends, I think, will come back eventually.

But in my bones, I am a pitcher.  I am an outfielder.   We won the city league championships in the 10-12 division.   I met my husband playing softball.  I taught my daughters how to burn one in. And it’s not just baseball. I can throw a football in a perfect spiral! Do you know any woman my age who can do that who is not named Madonna?

Please don’t tell me there is no data on that.  Tell me to give it time. Tell me I can start with paper airplanes, and I will. Tell me that.

Very sincerely,

A League of Her Own In Her Own Imagination

Dear Girl Playing Piano In Hospital Lobby,

IMG_0667Dear Girl Playing Piano In Hospital Lobby,

You are young — 20? 22?– so you should probably be forgiven.

You’ve chosen your playlist from slow popular songs that don’t have lyrics like “ho” and “bitches”. Songs that don’t offend, songs you could play for your grandmother.

So you play them.You play them forgetting that people around you are stricken, frightened, ill, facing demise.

And they don’t want to think about only having 100 years to live. They want more years. A thousand perhaps.

If you want to offer consolation and hope, maybe it’s best to avoid songs played during the sad parts of Grey’s Anatomy.

Very Sincerely,

A Patient

P.S. Also please avoid any discussion of being in the arms of an angel.