Michael Kimball author of two novels—The Way the Family Got Away, and How Much of Us There Was, has also written this: Excerpts from the Suicide Letters of Jonathon Bender
Why did you teach me the child’s prayer that was about me dying in my sleep before I woke up? I have always wondered if that was why I so often dreamed that I was dying. Did you know that I was often tired because I had to keep waking myself up from those dreams?
Thank you for bringing my friend Tommy to play with me even though nobody else could see him. But I wish that he hadn’t run away from home and never come back. I’m sure that it must have been better to grow up without a mom and
a dad, but I liked playing hide-and-go-seek with him since nobody else but me could find him.
Dear Mr. Ryan,
I’m sorry that I didn’t submit an insect collection for my final project in biology class and that you had to flunk me for it. But I wasn’t going to catch insects and then put them inside jars to suffocate them with alcohol fumes. That just made me think about how my dad smelled when he came into the house after he had been out drinking and how all of us would scatter when he tried to swat at us.
I’m sorry that I ran over the squirrel with my car when we were driving to the restaurant. I thought that it was going to stay on the other side of the road. I didn’t think that it would double back on itself.
Dear Courtney Betenbough,
I’m sorry that I was so mean to you and that I called you names like “fat girl” and that I made “mooing” noises at you when you walked by me in the hallway at school. You probably won’t believe this, but I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I was doing it because you reminded me of my dad and I wanted to hurt his feelings. 1991
I’m sorry that I didn’t go back to Michigan for Dad’s funeral even though you thought that I should have. But he didn’t know where I lived when he died and I didn’t want his ghost to follow me home to Illinois. I didn’t want to be haunted by him.
I’m sorry that I embarrassed you because I struck out each time that I came up to bat that first summer that I played little league baseball. I really was trying to get a hit.
I’m sorry that I got the lawn all muddy and sloppy by running through the sprinklers that you had put out in the front yard. I know that you were watering the lawn so that the grass would grow. But I was so skinny and short then, and I thought that the water might help me to grow too.
I’m sorry that I didn’t chase after my lucky hat after the wind blew it off of my head. I know that I should have at least tried to run after it, but it seemed so dirty after it rolled on the ground that I didn’t think that I could ever put it on my head again. Besides, I think that it was listening to what I was thinking.
Thank you for leaving all of your magazines with the naked women in them underneath your bed where they were easy for me to find. Did you ever look at them yourself or did you just buy them for me? Were you worried that I didn’t like girls?
I’m sorry that I wouldn’t open the windows in our apartment. I know how hot it was that summer that we lived together. But I was afraid that somebody would climb up the fire escape and break in on us. There was already too much that was missing from us.
Sometimes when I fart, the smell of it reminds me of you and the way that you used to sit on the toilet in the bathroom with the bathroom door always open. 1997
Thank you for giving me the stuffed dog for Christmas, though I still don’t know why I couldn’t have a living one. I know that you didn’t think that I would feed it and clean up after it, but I would have. I thought that if I took good care of the stuffed dog that you were going to get me a real one for next Christmas.
I’m sorry that I stopped coming to bed at night and started sleeping on the couch with the television on. The station going off of the air and all of that static that came on after that blurred how I felt.
I’m sorry that I usually went up to my bedroom when you came home from work. I thought that if you didn’t see me then you wouldn’t be angry with me.
Dear Dr. Adler,
I’m sorry that I stopped taking the medication that you prescribed for me. It gave me headaches and made me thirsty, but I stopped taking it because I didn’t think that I needed it anymore. I thought that I was thinking okay again.
I’m sorry that nobody could hear you when you were choking to death on a chicken bone and that you could not get yourself up off of the floor to try to give yourself the Heimlich maneuver. You must have felt very scared and alone.
I’m sorry that you died from eating too much or too fast or the wrong thing or however that chicken bone got stuck in your throat. Sometimes it makes me afraid to eat anything when I am alone.
Other times I can’t stop eating when I feel lonely, even if I don’t think that the food will choke me and kill me too. •
And for a change in pace along the same thread from an author who’s a bit more obscure, Here’s more in the suicide letters collection, another Dear Santa, this one from:
I tried to be real good this year
Thought if I did you’d take away Dad’s beer
But you didn’t so I guess I’m all out of luck
He beats me harder and calls me a stupid fuck
Dad threw a punch but somehow I swerved
Then he kicked between my legs said it’s what “I deserved”
He hit me again so now I’m bleeding above my eye
“You little Bastard don’t you dare fucking cry”
He stares at me and sees me bleeding on the floor
“Get down on your knees and clean it you son of a whore”
Mom left him Santa, and that made him sad
That’s why he drinks so much and that makes him bad
I do love him though even though he hurts me so
Maybe it was my fault that Mom had to go
He says he loves me and that he’s sorry he acts strange
And that he hates himself and that he cannot change
He hugs me close his eyes filled with tears
And tells me that me hating him is the biggest of his fears
But the next day he has a beer can in his hand
And he becomes the monster with violence on demand
Dear Santa I’m sorry if I wasn’t good enough
I try so hard to be good but sometimes it’s tough
But I promise this year from good I won’t stray
If next year you promise just to take me away