An Open Letter to Dylan Thomas

We are taking a bit of a step sideways today. This has been an emotional day. It has been a day of worry, remembrance, reflection, and – ultimately – hope again. Illness, death and dying are never easy topics. The death of someone close is never easy at any part of the year, but especially not easy during the holidays. It is especially hard when someone does not get the chance to say goodbye. I have never been comfortable consoling or paying respects in a time of another’s grief. Mere words never seemed to be adequate to address the pain one feels by losing someone so close. But my own misgivings about wishing one condolences is not the point of tonight’s message.

The point of tonight’s message is fighting for a life worth leading.

On this two year anniversary of her father’s passing, we had to go to the hospital where the battle with cancer was finally lost. Walking those halls on this day, we were resolved that there would be no more bad news on this day. The quota for horribleness had been used up for this day. When we left that dreary place, our hope in the future was reassured and we walked away relieved. Although I kept my thoughts to myself, I was reminded of a letter I wrote to a faraway person. It was written in my mind and it can never be sent.

I have decided the letter desperately needs someone to read it…

Dear Mr. Thomas:

It is today, good sir, on this anniversary, I am again reminded of what you said to us all. It is the avoidable truth of life that has brought us together in thought and words once again. It is what you said to send your father to his next destination that binds us together…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 The last time we talked, I wrote to you everything was in turmoil. Emotions were raw and biting. The world was scary and no one was sure what was going to happen. There was no explanation as to why bad things happen to good people. There was no explanation why he was taken away from those who tried so hard to be part of his life, no matter the struggles or wrongs that needed to be righted. The future may have had new bits of hope to cling to, but mostly, when we talked last year, the future was rudderless and unknown. Pain was still far too common.

Back then, we talked about the importance of never giving up on what we believe in and what we really want out of our lives. We talked about making an effort to see the light of day and the point of life lived fully. We talked about wrapping that light around us and raging against its death.

In that effort, albeit possibly for purely selfish reasons at the onset, we have taken the necessary steps to embrace the light. We have moved miles and mountains. We have changed lives in hopes finding our truths that lay just beyond the horizon.

We have just started to rage.

But, are we still doing what we promised, Mr. Thomas? Have we learned your lessons?

We rush around in so many directions for so much of the day. The hundreds of people we pass in that rush return our blank stares and look through us. The grips of reality force us to don those blinders so we can once again to live life quietly. We ignore the myriad of human passers-by in an effort to preserve of our own private lives.

It strikes me as so distant. So unattached. So unaware.

This distance leads us to miss or ignore the few, truly important moments each day that help us feel our existence. If we continue down this road, if we continue to ignore the world and everyone in it, we will ultimately live such solitary lives that eye contact from a stranger will be so much as looking at a wall, a portrait or an obstruction.

Despite my ignorance at the day, I lie awake at night – dreaming with my eyes wide open with the blinding sight you speak of. Brimming with passion and potential, yet when I rise into the light of the day, I leave these dreams unfilled.

How can you be afraid of heights if you never take the time to look up, or look down?

Please, Mr. Thomas, empower me to remember why we must rage. For as long as I can remember, your words have spoken to me. I never questioned why, for some reason they have always been inside me.

Tonight, I pass your words on again to the people who read the scribblings I offer the world on a regular basis. As I have always told you before, I take no credit for the sentiment or their power. I used to think life was a series of unrelated, incoherent acts. But now, on this day, for many reasons, I know this is not the case. Little moments from out past – like solitary squares of fabric that desperately hope to be joined into life’s greater quilt – should never stand alone or be without meaning. As those memories and moments find their rightful place in the universe, they return to you in waves. Give yourself up to the amazing journey of life and open yourself up freely to the reception of those waves. Ride those waves and let the importance of all your memories wash across you. 

Thank you again, Mr. Thomas. Thank you for teaching me that we all live in a place where the sun waits for no one. Thank you for teaching me I am no different. Thank you for teaching me that the promise of a love greater than I ever knew awaited me in a place where I let the light hit my face and let the waves of life wash over me. As I go through life the next few weeks, maybe while I am trying to find that perfect Christmas gift, I will make the choice to see those around me and appreciate them. Not ignore them thinking they are unimportant.

And, on this day, give Terry our best and tell him his family is doing their best to never forget your lessons.



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