Don’t ask me why, but something about writing that last letter was so therapeutic that I’m going to keep on writing letters for the experience alone…and just see where that leads. This will probably help with my memoir, but I’m just trying stuff out here. 🙂
Dear Hitch, (Posthumously of Course)
If I told you that a group of clergymen had kept me locked in a single dark closet from my birth up until approximately age 28, would you believe me?
Probably not; and I wouldn’t blame you. But this is a metaphor rather than a lie.
Suffice to say, I come from a background of religious abuse. I still wish I could bring myself to know everything about you—I read your memoir up to a point, until I couldn’t take it anymore. Hearing about your boarding school was just too difficult.
The most difficult part of it was that I couldn’t stop comparing myself to you. Your teachers treated you like shit, but somehow you still managed to become one of those few journalists who put himself in danger as though it were a beautiful addiction. You were Hunter S. Thompson, with fewer illegal substances. You were blunter than Mark Twain. You were better-educated than either one, although no one is right about everything.
My teachers…did things. Parents didn’t care. They were all religious. Some adult men enjoy young girls. The details aren’t important. What matters is that I’m still a shut-in half the time. I’ve had good times and bad ones, and things are improving now that I’m getting treatment for a previously undiagnosed condition.
But…you were in a bad situation, and did so much better than I did. I couldn’t hold down a job for years because if anyone startled me…oh, I once heard an unexpected noise and dove under a coworker’s desk. I just couldn’t help it. I’ve heard that happens to war veterans too—exaggerated startle response, I suppose.
And yet somehow you did the opposite. You volunteered to get yourself water boarded when I can’t even ride the bus alone most of the time. I’ve lost count of the countries you’ve visited, while I’m afraid to even go back to America. You’ve been arrested…and appeared to think it was funny!
I still can’t wrap my head around that. But even though you obviously don’t exist anymore, I’m still expressing gratitude that you did exist for a while in the first place. Thanks for being an inspiration to me.
I still wish we could have met. We all know the analogy of ships passing in the night…in my case, your candle flame was fading by the time I even began to gain my eyesight. Being in the darkness for almost three decades will do that.
There are still your books, your videos; there are all the people you spoke for as a journalist. I’m familiar with nearly all of your written works and quotes. There are the people you offended—oh, how easily some folks are offended! It still makes me laugh.
You were one of the people who made me realize that…well, that maybe you can offend people a little and they won’t automatically retaliate by raping you half to death. Or if they ever dare to try, they don’t have a right to, and they are the scum of the earth for thinking that they could.
You helped me unchain my mind.
You faced death with a courage that helped me become an atheist myself, though I only got bits and pieces of this courage through your books and interviews. You made me realize that life is finite, and that’s okay. The best thing we can do is leave an enduring legacy in this precious place that we call “reality.”
I was so, so sad when I learned you were dying. I mean I sat in my apartment with the sponge-painted blue walls, science posters, and tiny bed…the place I had with my roommates was an hour away from college, but at least it was cheap. I sat on that bed and sobbed into pillows.
I found the nearest hiking trail and just tried to see the woods…and not focus on the fact that the world was losing someone it obviously needed. While at the same time people who did nothing but hurt the world…lingered on, and might outlive everyone I love for all I know.
When you’ve been trained since birth to expect some kind of justice, karmic or otherwise, it’s a difficult concept to abandon. But somehow it was even harder to accept the fact that the people who suffered…never got any do-overs, for lack of a better word! While I was mourning the fact that the human race would never have another Hitch, I was also having nightmares where my childhood pets looked at me with really disappointed expressions. Like they had actually expected to survive their own deaths in some other form—animal, human, ghost, or otherwise. And now they wouldn’t. Poor things!
What can I say…I was one of those kids who listened to the adults too much? I was an only child. Gullible. And I have a long medical history that I won’t bore you with, including a traumatic brain injury. Not easy to think critically when parts of your frontal lobes are damaged. Suffice to say that I’ve come to terms with my precious life, and with the fact that yours has ended. But that doesn’t lessen how valuable your memory is to me.
I’m one of those people who might talk at a persons’ grave, even though I know they can’t hear me. If I’m going to take the time to honour their memories, I might as well be doing it out loud!
Newton once said that if he has seen far, it is only because he has stood on the shoulders of giants.
So very few of us managed to become giants.
So many of us died before we could even stand, either literally or metaphorically.
So many of us were too busy trying to eat to go looking for giants on whose shoulders to stand…Maslow’s hierarchy and all that.
You have a hell of a hard time learning how to even spell when you’re too busy chasing your bread around, and that describes a lot of people through a lot of human history. It’s not that human beings are stupid; it’s that we’re not as far down from the trees as we like to think we are.
But, a precious few of us manage to attain some quality education somehow. Enough to develop critical thinking skills and constantly investigate the world around us. A few of us have an insatiable curiosity, and those people can do more than I imagined before.
Those people proceed to uncover a little bit more, and a little more, each successive generation…and we’ve slowly developed a process for doing so, and we tend to call it science.
I don’t think I’ll ever achieve the honor of having anyone stand on my shoulders. But I stand on yours, and that in itself is something I’m grateful for. Even though you are now at peace, gone, and no longer capable of concerning yourself with this strange species called humanity. I’m still glad you were a part of it.
With All Thanks,