My dearest Peter,
Last year for my birthday, you wrote me a letter that includes this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit:
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because when you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Your next sentence made me cry–then, and today as I read it again: “So kiss me softly each day in case the ‘real’ does hurt sometimes.”
In the new RadioWest film, you show not only me, but everyone who sees it, that “the “real’ does hurt sometimes.” A lot.
The Lacoön group: Lacoön and his sons being strangled by serpents (2nd century BCE–1st century CE, Greek, in the Vatican Museums).
I admire your courage to be vulnerable in this film in order to tell the truth of how difficult the path of dementia is for you. I know that my deterioration is agonizing for you, and you have told me that you cry a lot. Seeing you cry or knowing that you often hide your crying so as not to upset me hurts me far more than the fact of my dementia. I wish that “kissing you softly” could take away just an ounce of your huge burden every day, but I know that it doesn’t even come close. I wish that the last thing I will forget is your love for me. I am so very grateful that you have given me the utterly generous gift of helping me not to get to a moment where I no longer show my love for you.
You are wonderful to keep dancing with me even though I can no longer do the turns
Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery in making this film. You demonstrate so beautifully to me and our children and grandchildren the enormous challenge of remaining a loving, ethical, promise-keeping man even when life throws you an almost unbearable sorrow.
Thank you for making me “real” a long time ago. And keeping me “real” despite my loose joints and shabbiness.
Kissing you softly,