Dear Janice

Love, Mr. Porter

I recently did an online/phone consultation with a coach. I’d done webinars and lectures online, and this was the first time I’d tried something so personal. Actually, now that I think of it, I had a telephone reading by a channel or conduit or pipe or something back in the ’90s. I was in Minnesota. Ophelia, I think, was somewhere in stereotypical California, and she read me like a book. This time the coach, Scott Grace, suggested a few things I could do, starting with a letter to Janice, and that’s what this is.

Dear Janice,

I trust you are well and happy. I still love you, and now I miss you, too.

I’m a little sorry that I wasn’t a better husband for you. At the same time I know I was a hell of a lot better husband for you than I was for my first wife, in the early ’70s. I’m only a little sorry because I also know I was and am as good as possible then and now, although I still wish I’d known how to give you what you wanted, the job I’d assigned myself.

I’m not done with you. To start with, there are a couple of things I meant to do and didn’t. One was to tell you a joke I thought of and wouldn’t tell you then. I’m sorry, but as always—often foolishly—I didn’t want to hurt you, so I’ll tell you now. Now I don’t know why I thought you’d be hurt. You’re pretty hard to offend.

I’m calling it a joke, but it’s just a wisecrack. Here’s the context. Your vocalizations changed drastically over your last couple of months, and one of the stages involved you making a sound with every exhalation. It was unpredictable, sometimes loud, and could continue indefinitely, keeping both of us awake. For a couple of weeks I even slept in the living room to get away from you. When you stopped talking altogether I thought—“At least she’s not honking.” Rim shot. You clearly didn’t miss much.

And I meant to sing to you. You liked to sing, and you used to talk about wanting more family singing. Group sing-alongs never caught on, so I’m doing it on my own. I thought of it a lot near the end. I was even gonna ask Jimmy to play with me, but I didn’t and I ran out of time and you died. Now I sing to you all the time, mostly in the car so as not to distress the neighbors.


Mr. Porter.