“Thank You” — An Open Letter

Dear Old Friend,

Until yesterday, we hadn’t spoken in a decade. In the back of my mind, I was 99% sure — because of the context of our former acquaintanceship — we would likely never speak again. But then, you began reading my writing. And then you read my book. And then we spoke. And then you forgave me.

Some people in this world really do have the right to loathe and despise me — for reasons I would never fault them — and you were one of them. And yet, your understanding and compassion prevailed over your judgment and discomfort. Not many people have that kind of dignified integrity; so, for that, I want to say Thank You.

When we talked about that section — your section — of my book, you asked, “Were you writing about me?” And I could have side-stepped the question; I could have said, “No, it was just an abstract amalgam of numerous experiences, written in a literately-artistic form to emphasize an overall point.” I could have said, “No, the resemblance was merely coincidental.” Or I could have just said, “No.” But I said none of those things. I felt, after your willingness to forgive me for my actions of the past, I owed you the absolute truth; so I simply replied, “Yes.”

I want you to know that this seemingly-simple admission was actually very difficult for me. Because as a literary-nonfiction writer — putting my life into artistically-written sentences, paragraphs, and chapters — it’s quite easy to start seeing my own life events as plot points; it’s quite easy to start seeing people as characters. So when you asked me if it was you I was writing about in that section of my book, it reminded me that the people in my book — in my life — are people, not characters. Granted, I never actually forgot this point, but it was nice to have the subtle reminder nonetheless.

You displayed a level of compassion and understanding which has been extremely rare in my post-criminal life. To some (or most), I will always be who I was and I will never be who I am — but somehow, you read my writings and you read my book, and you believed that I’d changed.

So, for that, please accept my deepest heart-felt thanks. On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for: a) Forgiveness, b) Repentance, and c) Grace.

  • Forgiveness — For the ways in which I’ve hurt the ones I love.
  • Repentance — For the certainty that I will never be the horrible person I was.
  • Grace — For the loving acceptance which can only come from those with loving hearts.

So, Old Friend, thank you for being one of those loving and forgiving souls who look beyond the sins of the past. You are unique and you are appreciated.

From the bottom of my heart,
Thank you.