(Right now, I’m focusing on my memoirist work that I’ll call, simply, “Pictures of Tommy” -- mostly about my psychotic brother and his legacy. It touches on my personal fears, too. . . .)
LETTERS TO THE DEAD
One really useful function of writing is how it can transform something awful into its opposite, something healing and cathartic. In some ways, I’d call it a trick o’ the trade, but that sort of cheapens the magic, doesn’t it? Anyway, my life was saved by being a creative writing major. I am sure this technique was one of our writing exercises. Anyway:
Here’s a letter I wrote to Tommy a few months after he passed away. It’s still a work in progress, but every time I work on it, it brings me closer to him in a strange way. . .
(Brother Tom circa 1990, around the time of Carrie & Dan's wedding)
I suggested to Carrie to write you a letter -- it’d help her feel better about you and your death. Writing about you is helpful -- therapeutic -- to me, but writing to you is also nice. I am sure on some level you can hear these words, etched out in my notebook or even typed out on my computer.
Time to come clean: I live with knowing that I’ve thought of you dying the past year or two. Every time we’ve spoken I’ve been sad, sensing you wouldn’t be around for too much longer. Not that I was actively hoping for your death -- or wishing any harm to you. I just knew you were sick and upset and struggling so. I feel guilty admitting that I also thought that a few dollars from your estate would be an absolute lifesaver for me at this time if you did die, though. So, in one way, I feel horrible for my thoughts: partly presentiments and hunches mingled in with a vague greed.
I just had a feeling you were going to die soon. So it came as little surprise, partial relief, and certain guilt when we heard you passed away on Friday, July 29th. I was tremendously sad for you, but also glad you no longer had to live in that tortured mind and body.
I hope you’ll forgive me for having those precognitions about you and not saying something. How can a person say such things? Too weird. You might have gotten really upset if I did. There were times you wanted to die, I do know. . . and every now and then, even a death wish is granted.
It wasn’t my wish for you. I wish you peace, I wish you love. I hope you find understanding -- which I’m sure you will, in the heaven you prayed for all those years on earth.
So thank you, Tommy, and rest in peace. I really mean it. By the way, I forgive you for hurting me. I won’t forget, but I will forgive and try to understand. Sorry if I hurt you, too.
Love, Laurie (PS - I’ll always be your sister)