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The Letter

In response to Writing 101. Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Please, Maddie, come home. 



To Whom it May Concern

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.

My Dearest Patsy,

I’ve been meaning to write a thank-you note and am just now getting to it. Thank you again for all you’ve done for me. You’re simply amazing.

I still can’t believe it. You really saved the day. Thank you for being willing to be inconvenienced on my behalf–in this “Me First” society, that’s just not something people do anymore. I know the timing was inopportune for you, but as far as I’m concerned, you couldn’t have shown up at a better moment. If you hadn’t been there, my whole week would have gone horribly, horribly wrong. You are truly a lifesaver. I hope, one day, to repay the favor.

I heard about your sabbatical; how are things? I can’t believe you managed all-inclusive accommodations. I guess it’s karma, right? You helped me, someone helped you…super cool. Free food is my dream. Is the workout equipment as great as everyone says? I understand they also have a great research facility. (Patsy, you nerd…even when you take a break, you make sure you can keep up your education). One of these days, I really need to make time to come visit. Things have just been so busy. Work, you know.

Traveling all over South America just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I wish I had time to take an extended vacation. You’re so lucky. Sometimes life just isn’t fair…but, I suppose I can’t complain since without you, my dear Patsy, I wouldn’t even have this job. I’d probably be stuck in routine drudgery, in some corporate dungeon. You have made this possible, and I am truly thankful. As I keep saying (I just can’t stop!) you are truly an extraordinary person. Thank you, again and again. I still t don’t think I’ll ever fully understand what made you do it. Just your inner beauty, I suppose.

Well, I need to wrap this up. I have a flight to catch, but one last thing.

Like I said, I don’t know what made you wear a black mask that day; maybe you thought I’d be blamed for your robbery. Instead, you get to serve my time. Thank you, again. You were the perfect patsy. Good luck finding a lawyer. At least you have all those law books available.

And remember,

Orange is the new Black.


The real Man in Black

P.S.  Don’t even think about trying to introduce this as evidence. Why do you think I typed it (and sent it from your house)?


Thanks to my 8 year old son for leaving “Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets” by Dav Pilkey on the coffee table. “PATSY is an acronym for Photo-Atomic Trans-Somgobulating Yectofantriplutonic-zanziptomizer.” -Melvin


Adoption = Letters to My Children, Part 2

Before we adopted, I wrote letters in my head; often I wish I’d actually penned them:

My darlings, I expect you’re probably already out in the world somewhere. How I wish, wish, wish I could send you a message.

Three years past adoption, I still dream these letters, every day.

My sweet daughter,

The last few weeks have been difficult, mostly because you want control and I refuse to transfer the power. Lately, you are headstrong, subversive, stubborn, manipulative and oppositional. You are single-minded in your quest to defeat me.

In a decade, I will readily admit: at this moment, I am frustrated, exhausted and I’d love to just give up. For now, my dear, we play poker. I smile and pretend none of this hurts, your resistance against my desperate attempt to mold you into a successful human being. I understand the stakes; we both need to win.

Here’s the thing. I’ve started thinking about the young woman you’ll be. Your freedom is coming faster than either of us expects. Perhaps it’s time for a different approach.

Yes, you must learn to follow directions in order to survive and thrive in our world. I’m sorry, but that’s life. On the other hand, maybe there are better words for some of your traits.

Headstrong: you are tenacious, determined and relentless in your bid for power. The same qualities that drive you to make excellent grades while not eating your lunch (to prove I’m incorrect, that you can do well without brain fuel) will serve you well as you work through upper grades and college, first jobs and messy relationships. It will be amazing, your eloquent survival.

Subversive: you are always looking for ways to circumvent my rules. You make up your own. So did Sir Isaac Newton. And Albert Einstein. You consistently take the path of greatest resistance, the one decidedly less traveled. You convince others to abandon the sanctioned course. Sometimes this leads to the most amazing discoveries.

Stubborn: you refuse to renege your crusade to take charge, to “do what you want to do,” as you say. You want control over your life. Better words to describe you: steadfast and unshakable. Someday, another person may try to force their will over yours. I pity the fool.

Manipulative: you will do and say anything to get what you want. You say what you think others want to hear. Right now, it’s not attractive. As you mature, I believe “manipulative” will become “careful,” “intelligent,” and even “considerate.”  You will be the center of many universes.

Oppositional: you admit to this freely, which shocks me and your therapist. Honestly defiant, that’s you. But honey, life isn’t easy. You know that truth better than most adults. Know who else was oppositional? Susan B. Anthony. Rosa Parks.

Like your first years in this world, the start of this letter is discouraging. However, the story doesn’t end in the first paragraph. Both your life and this letter have metamorphosed. The end is not determined by the beginning.

I pray that God will help you continue to grow into the amazing young woman I see behind your beautiful blue eyes. That you will be relentless in your pursuit of wonder as you create your own avenues, and resilient. That you will be resolute in your being. That you will consider the well-being of others, and fight for justice.

I pray that I will live to see the day you change your world.

You are the light, the fire, the love of my life.

I am so thankful you are my daughter.

Love you forever,


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The Letter

Writing 101 Assignment: You read it a letter. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


The social worker brought a letter. Their family finally made contact. 

Should I burn it?


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