I haven’t slept. I’ll read this several hours from now and wonder what planet I was on when I wrote it. I’ve had her email address for a couple of weeks or longer, but I haven’t been brave enough to write anything until now. Delirium ain’t such a bad thing. But we’ll see…
(BTW, I haven’t sent it yet. I need feedback, please.)
Dear Mrs. Sizer,
I hope this letter finds you well. I hope this letter finds you. I was given your email, one I don’t know whether you still use, by a man I found online who reviewed a Texas History book of yours. I have looked for you for a long time, and now here you are, hopefully, on the receiving end of this letter.
After years of searching, I finally found you, and now I don’t know what to say. The time is 3:12 am according to my laptop, which means that the stars have passed over a little farther than my computer thinks they have. In other words, the hour is very late or very early. Whatever the case, my inability to sleep has made me a bit delirious, and I’m sure my words reflect my state. But so be it. My inability to sleep is what is giving me the courage to write.
My eyes are nearly closed and bright lights are flooding the parts that my lids have exposed. So this white computer screen looks like old yellowed paper—the perfect kind for writing a hand-written letter on.
So, pen in hand, I’ll get right to it.
You inspired me more than I have words to express. To this day I remember to not use “it is” and “there are,” and my writing has benefitted greatly because of your advice.
You brought literature to life and set fire to the classroom.
“Out, damned spot! out, I say!” you played the part, and I watched, entranced.
You were appalled at my reading Cliffs Notes for Dracula (in class, no less).
“It’s just as scary.” I recoiled.
I honestly had no idea those little books had analyses in the back. I never paid attention to them. I thought the books were mere synopses, but they must have been more than a brief summary because I wasn’t kidding when I said the booklet was just as scary as the book. And just so you know, Dracula was the only book I recall reading the summarized version of. Even then, my analysis had no need for any writers’ watered-down explanations. You were my guide.
So here you are near the end of your writing days, and here I am in the midst of mine. Please know that a part of you is in me because you planted a seed. I am a math teacher, but I will be honest. I’ve read seventeenth-century poetry in class and discussed the social implications of Orwell’s terrifying dystopia. Despite my love for literature and writing, though, I didn’t take the English route. My degree is in physics. But I inspired a brilliant math student to pursue a degree in literature because you sparked a flame in me that was blown into a raging fire by others. And I never would have had nearly the ability to pass along your passion had you not taught me to see and feel between a writer’s lines.
My bookcase grows heavier as I continually fill it with future journeys and ideas. If I could get through Ulysses, I’d go through them faster. But I’m in no hurry.
I have another 50 years to read them all and inspire future lovers of literature to follow my lead. Another 50 years to light a fire in young people to write and pass along your passion. And the generations to come will experience the same. And on and on.
I’m writing to thank you, to tell you that I have thought of you often through the years, and to let you know, Mrs. Sizer, that your influence has made you immortal.
I wish you all the best,