My mom sent me this email on October 24, 2001:
It’s funny – i just looked at the red sox jinx thing. 1
I love you with affection unspeakable as well. 2 You and [name redacted] are joy to me….almost unbearably so. I guess you read that as desparation, but it’s not – it is quite simply the greatest gift I have ever been given, a treasure beyond price. 3
It’s nice to hear how you feel.
Keep searching for that kind, soft, gentle part of yourself; don’t give up on it because someone couldn’t handle it. It’s as much a part of you as how brilliant you are. It may be the best part of you, my love. 4
Talk to you soon.
Please send the flight info. 5
Love ya MOM
1 I have no idea what this means.
2 This is a reference to a line from the operetta “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert & Sullivan. At the beginning of the musical, Frederick tells The Pirate King and his band, “Individually I love you all with affection unspeakable. But collectively I look upon you with a disgust that amounts to absolute detestation.” It’s one of my favorite lines in the world. My mother and I would often play a VHS tape of this while we did chores on weekend mornings; she would sing the parts of Ruth and Mabel and I would sing the parts of Frederick, The Pirate King, and the Modern Major General. I was — even at a very young age — awestruck that my mother could hit the same high notes as Linda Ronstadt.
3 It boggles my mind how frequently my mother spelled the word desperation incorrectly.
4 I don’t know why she wrote this. We had probably gotten into an argument on the phone in which I had been cold and cruel and brutally honest about something dramatic.
5 Airfare was ridiculously inexpensive for a few months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, so I flew home from Los Angeles in early November; my girlfriend (now wife) and I took our mothers and my sister to Disney World on that trip.