I am sorry I never sent you my letter.
I meant to. I had it all written out and everything, but I balked. Even an ocean away I was too shy.
I thought I had more time. I spend most of my life with the panicked feeling that I do not have enough time, that some invisible timer is forever counting down and I cannot keep up, but that time I thought otherwise, and I was wrong.
Not that there was anything especially interesting in that letter; nothing, I am sure, that you hadn’t heard many times before. You meant a lot to me. You meant a lot to a lot of people.
You helped me come to grips with the world. Not that you explained everything about it, because no one could, but you made it seem like the kind of place that could be explained. Maybe better than that, you made it alright to not understand some things, made it less frightening to not be able to figure everything out.
Reading your books made something that had been frantic and upset in me for a long time calm down and retreat to a manageable distance.
I have carried them with me as totems in frightening places. Often simply having one nearby made me feel better. They all have stories: this one given by a friend, this one bought in the middle of that camping trip, this one sent in the mail from Finland. They are battered and cracked and sometimes stained and they are every one of them exceedingly good friends.
They have always been easy to read. I don’t mean that in the sense that they are simplistic or not challenging or anything like that. What I mean to say is that even when I am feeling my worst, when so many things that should not be hard are hard, reading your books is easy. It is a difficult thing to explain but it is an important thing.
But there are books of yours that I have not read, because I am not yet ready to face the fact that there are now and forever a finite amount of them. That someday there will be no more new journeys with you.
Dear sir, you have inspired me as a writer, but more than that, you have helped me be strong enough and well enough to write at all. To be curious and enthusiastic about the world instead of afraid of it. To challenge what is abhorrent without losing tolerance for the flaws inherent in us all. You have helped me shape beliefs strong enough that I can hold onto them even when the malfunctioning parts of my brain are clamoring to assure me otherwise.
I wish desperately that you were still here; the world seems to grow more confusing and terrible by the day. Good god, but we need you now more than ever. What a crime beyond measure, to take you so soon.
Dear sir, I am sorry I never sent you my letter, but if I am at all able I intend to make it up to you by using the gifts you gave me.