Dear Anders,

I’ve been asked to send the older members of the family an update on Pete, and since some are hard of hearing and none use social media, I opted to send letters.

As you know, Pete lost his wife to pancreatic cancer a few years ago, and he’s not been the same since. It’s understandable, considering they were high school sweethearts and married for fifty-two years. The anger was the hardest for him to get past. He was angry at the medical community for a really long time, and for a while blamed them for her death.

I don’t yet know what it is about losing loved ones and traveling, but he became part of that group and unexpectedly put his kids in charge of his business before hopping on a train with no predetermined destination. Everyone was worried about him because he’s in his seventies, had never traveled alone and his mental state, as you can imagine was out of balance.

In the first few months, he met a woman in Ireland and brought her home to meet his kids when he returned during Christmas, after having been gone for nine months. The meet and greet didn’t go well, because she was forty years his junior and the spitting image of their mother when she was young. It was like God plucked her from a cloud then rolled her down a hill to land at his foot. The gossip became that he’d left to travel the world hoping to find her and returned with the idea that he did.

As everyone predicted, it didn’t last. Forty years can be too much ground to make up between lovers, and truth be told, Pete was still in love with his wife, not the replica. Unfortunately, that breakup did something to change his heart cause one month afterward, he left his kids in charge again and caught another train, this time headed to Asia.

Most folks know that Pete is an atheist. He shares it because he’s proud of it, I guess. The first time he told me, I was surprised and didn’t know what to say in return. It was one of those moments when someone looks at you expecting a reply, but in your head, you know your reply isn’t appropriate to say out loud, yet you also can’t conceive of anything else to say. So in response you stare silently with a dumb look on your face. Maybe only I do that, I don’t know. I couldn’t say, “Ah. Nice. I’m not,” cause who knows where that would lead, and besides, I was working for him at the time, and mixing religion and business is like using the bathroom in the kitchen. I mean, it could work, but it’s weird, and there’s no way you’re gonna eat afterward. I didn’t want my work to smell like shit to him, so just ending up nodding at his admission.

Pete doesn’t know his wife paid me to watch over him before she passed, and when I accepted the role, I didn’t expect him to change so drastically. I wondered why she asked me to take this role and not their kids, but she was so sick I couldn’t bring myself to ask her, cause I thought the question would bring her more grief. I’m writing to you because after eleven months, he returned home last week.

As a Buddhist.

I feel like that sentence needed to sit on its own line cause his family and friends are considering having him committed, and I was wondering if you might be available to come out and talk some sense into them. I’m inclined to think it’s because he came back with no luggage or personal items and wearing a brown robe. The other part is that he is strongly opposed to social media, yet after a few days of settling in, he started a Facebook page, and in his first post added a photo of his bloody head and black eye on his timeline. He included an explanation for his injuries, detailing his walk through a glass door in his home before falling down and hitting his head. As far as Facebook posts go, it was a doozy for a first and pretty upsetting to his family, who were the ones that took the photos.

It’s hard to witness the struggles our loved ones go through to make peace with themselves, cause from the outside, it almost always looks like chaos on wheels, but I really think that’s all it is, the look of peace before it coagulates. I believe him walking through the glass, falling and bleeding is a like a mini-dramatization of his two-year process.

In my opinion, his behavior doesn’t warrant commitment but may require the likes of someone like yourself to step in and offer a different viewpoint, so they might see the beauty inherent in him breaking his own glass and finding his blood in the shadow.

I hope to hear back from you soon. If you’re able to come on short notice, it would be much appreciated. Pete’s wife left money to cover these types of needs, so I’m on standby to book your travel as your schedule allows.

Sincerely,
Joanna

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” 

~ Carl Gustav Jung ~