The day before I was born and the day after, my grandfather wrote me two letters. The day I turned sixteen, he watched me read those letters. On the day of his funeral I read a letter I addressed to him, and on the day I turned twenty-one my grandmother gave me a note written with words she thought my grandfather might have said. I’ve published work with Rookie previously about the passing of loved ones and the dealings of cancer. My childhood friends and I have sought one another out to find an ally in the nostalgia we feel when we return home. The places we come back to are not that different, but because we are no longer at the center of them, they are no longer ours. When someone has been aggrieved, they tend to lash out mistakenly. One doesn’t mean to harm another, but when you’ve been made to feel so small, you’ll do absolutely anything to gain back some sense of integrity. Even if it means hurting those closest to you. My two best friends struggle with mental illness. One has been led to believe that if she were to close the door, not look back, then that would be best. To not interfere with what has passed nor rely on others to offer solace. My other friend invariably gravitates to the comfort of those around her. There is no right or wrong. I adapt, which I thought meant being strong. Now I think it was a unique way of standing on top of everything I was scared of and pushing it all far down. What I have resigned myself to is that there is a warped behavior that I fail to comprehend in society. One asks, “How are you?” but I acquiesce that often one does not care to hear the extent of it. Recently I’ve read the likes of Judith Butler, Roland Barthes, and James Baldwin, all of whom question the mystique of human grief. The drawings I’ve produced here are all excerpts from an essay I wrote as my final. I’ve never been as articulate in person as I am on paper, so I thought I’d write an open letter that addressed all that I’ve come to understand. ♦