A Letter Unsent

Dearest mother,

 

I hope this letter finds you well. I am doing well here in Calgary. My wife sends her regards. I find myself ill at ease of late. Mayhaps a visit from you would be a balm for my soul.

 

🤣

 

Who writes like that anymore? Well, you probably did. With pen and paper. Probably an ink well. Learning cursive and whatnot. I can clearly imagine you at a table, writing a letter to your brother or sisters, telling them about your experiences. I don’t ever recall seeing you write anything at any time however.

 

Who even writes letters anymore?

 

Now, through the technological magic of the digital age, we can do this:

 

happy birthday card beside flower thread box and macaroons
Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

 

Happy Birthday!

 

85 years is a delightful milestone! You’ve seen so much history: you witnessed a World War, you gained the right to vote in 1960 or thereabouts, you saw the ending of the Residential school system of which you were a part of. You saw so much.

 

I wish you were here. Writing is so impersonal. Perhaps that why I do so much of it. Disassociating the self from the emotion. It’s easy to write of disturbing things. After all, it’s just part of the story right?

 

But no, you’re not here. You’re not anywhere. You passed away some 3 years ago.

 

Passed away. A nice way of saying you died. Deceased. Pining for the fjords.

 

Sigh. I can’t stop cracking jokes, even in the face of death. I must have gotten that from you.

 

Dammit, I miss you.

 

I am writing this letter to you as a means of therapy. Of maintaining the relationship I had with you prior to your exit. Connecting with people has been difficult since you left.

 

I mean, I understand that everything ends. Our time here is limited. Our very breath, once spent is never recovered. So why can’t I let you go? Why can’t I move on?

 

I digress. Pointless musings on the nature of death. We have had millenia to consider it and no answer is better then the other.

 

We die. We are done. The End.

 

Argh, more digressions.

 

I am doing this to update you, to keep you in the know of what is happening to me, your son. One of many of your offspring. But also, the last of your children.

 

So, where was I? The past year, right. It was a doozy.

 

Around christmas 2018, it hit me hard. Depression. Harder then it has ever been. I almost didn’t recover.

 

I’ve been dealing with depression most of my life. Almost all of it, it seems. It hounds me, creeping around my every thought. You must have seen me as I struggled with it in my youth. You had a lot on your plate back then.

 

Work. Money. Bills. Money. House repairs. Money. Missing you. Money. Missing you. Money.

 

I used to always visit you at christmas, either at home, or the senior care facility later. We would open gifts and share a meal, sometimes with tea or coffee. You always liked tea over coffee. I am kind of addicted to coffee.

 

But you weren’t there that year. And it hurt. The year before, christmas went by in a daze, I can barely recall it. The newness of your absence must have masked it.

 

So yes, depression called, and I answered.

 

I couldn’t sleep. I was overeating. I started having panic attacks. My heart would race, I couldn’t keep a thought in my head except to run. Just, run. A blind, mamillian response to stress.

 

I couldn’t work like that. I had to go on long term disability. The cut to my paycheque hurt even worse. But work had good programs in place to assist.

 

So I got help.

 

Cognitive Behaviour therapy. Very wordy, but it has been incredibly helpful to me. Medication helped as well. It is a wonder how changing how you look at things can change so much. I was so close mom, it frightened me.

 

Part of my healing has been to write. My teachers all said that I had talent, but I never had the belief in myself to take them seriously. But I am now. I think you would be proud.

 

I wrote a novel!

 

I want to be published. To make a name for myself. Recognition. I am afraid, but exhilarated at the same time about that.

 

I look to your strength for inspiration in this. You endured so much to bring us all, your children here. So much of it must have been abject misery, but you did it.

 

My cat, Wesley, has been a constant companion. You met him once. I think he liked you.

 

I have had the extreme fortune of meeting several strong women like you in my travels. I always mention you to them. They are suitably impressed by you.

 

So, it is your birthday, and I am writing this letter to you. I should burn it, it would be cathartic, possibly. I just need you to understand how things are, how I am doing.

 

I am better now. This last christmas, I thought of you, and was happy. You would have enjoyed it, you always do.

 

I should wrap this up. It is late, and I am tired. Writing is easy but at the same time, draining, if that makes sense. I want to continue this conversation with you though.

 

My wife says Hi! and Happy Birthday!

 

You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten. I will continue to speak of you to any who will listen. They will remember you.

 

I love you.

 

-Ellis

A Meditation on the Self.

I am a writer. But I am now blocked.

I was writing a story. Chapter by chapter. Week by week. I have been unable to finish my work. I sometimes sit and stare at my unfinished work, mentally punishing myself for my inability to end the story.

The words are there. I cannot make them leave my mind and take their place on page.

I am depressed.

The depression is not the result of my not finishing the story I’ve written.

I suffer from depression. It has been a lifelong condition, it seems. My constant companion.

I grew up in a house filled with abuse. I was abused.

Was is the cause of my depression or would it have occurred regardless? My thoughts spiral along the path of self-doubt: the path that abuse sets before you. The thought pattern that abusers drive into you.

I have spent years fighting the grip of depression. I have sought help from counsellors and doctors. I am on medication. I daily wage a silent war to confront my darkest thoughts and challenge them, striving to change them into positive or at least, neutral thoughts.

After years of therapy and medication, I have come to the conclusion that I will never be rid of my constant companion. At best, AT BEST, I have learned enough techniques to keep the darkness at bay temporarily. Muted, but never eliminated.

Some days, it is a snicker behind my back, on others, a scream that drowns out all other thoughts.

Spending time with my friends helps immeasurably. With them I can laugh, and joke, and for a time, forget. Talking about it helps as well. I spent far too many years internalizing my suffering. Developing the strength to speak of my experiences has been liberating. Even writing these words down here has been helpful.

The wave of depression will break. The writing will continue. I will be myself again.

I am Ellis.