Letter, right now.
It’s a Friday afternoon in Santa Fe. I am sitting at your desk, typing on my computer, annoyed at the August flies. I painted my artwork in your yard all morning, you are out working. Your school starts next week, and in a little over a month, you have another hearing to see if you get help from the judge enforcing the visitation recommendations so you can have a relationship with your daughter, so you can even see her.
I stopped painting to take a little break, eat lunch, shower, and head to town to see friends. I picked up the book I am reading, by Wallace Stegner, my favorite author, and read an essay that made me cry and cry, “Letter, much too late”, a letter to his mother, long dead. I named my son Wallace after this man, because after I read most of his books, including “Angle of Repose” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain”, I could hear the voice of a son describing his mother and how much love and closeness they shared. I wished for that kind of love myself, that deep mother- son bond, when I had my son Wallace, and hoped to love him like Stegner’s mother loved him. Naming my son Wallace was a wish to know that kind of love in this life. And am I ever grateful for my two beautiful sons, who are loved so fiercely by me that they squeal, and demand, from the confidence of being loved.
I’m here visiting you, enjoying your company, checking in to see how you are. Cooking for you, taking care of you, and reminding you that you are loved. We ate dinner last night at a restaurant with your parents, you were a wretch to them and loved every minute of it. After dinner your mom called to tell you that you don’t have to be happy for her to love you. The love that your family loves each other with is gorgeous. Your family saved my life and gave me a hope that love might be possible for me too, and I have been grateful all my life for it. Yeah, long ago I was hurt that you didn’t want that big life love with me, but as I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate so much that you have never offered me what you couldn’t give, you have always told me the truth, even when I didn’t want to hear it. And you have set a bar so high for trust that I have compared every other relationship in my life to it. Thank you for teaching me to be free. You taught me how to trust, and to love, and to stay true to myself no matter what. You have shared yourself intimately with me, without lies, and with a lot of sweetness and play. Thank you.
I’m still crying from the book, and from realizing that I need to keep telling you something you already know: that you are loved. That every day that you feel dark and suicidal, which I know you do, there are some fierce and beautiful women who love you and need you. We need you to just keep being you. Even if you are just sitting in your chair drinking and smoking, thinking, and looking at the sky, please don’t stop being. I love you and I need you and I just need to know you are still here in this beautiful, mysterious and hard world every day you can. I will give you what I can when you are low. Keep finding simple things to enjoy, and pondering the vastness of the universe. Your daughter needs you: she needs you to be there when she is old enough to break past the illusions she will be taught by her mother, to show her what love and trust looks like. Like you have showed me with ease and sweetness. Hang in. Be here so one day your daughter can say “I love loving you, Dad.”
You did it. You hung in for a 4 year war with the mother of your daughter to save her life. You fought a precedent setting multi-state court battle to get full custody. The joy I heard in your voice on the phone today was so thick and real. I haven’t heard you sound that way in 30 years. Your family rescued me from despair, neglect, and religious and emotional abuse. I think it was just practice for what your family will do for your daughter. I am so deeply proud of you for fighting for her life. I am so moved by the commitment of the freest man I’ve ever known. I am so deeply excited that you have just begun the deepest relationship of your life.