People keep coming to my door and telling me, “I don’t know what to say.” That is because there are no words. There is only love. It is only you that we needed. We needed you, and here you are.
I cannot express how completely my family and I have felt your love. Emails, texts, cards, calls, flowers, visits and food (so much food). Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So many people have shared with me their own stories of grief. I could never have anticipated how deeply comforting it is to hear these stories and to realize the teller is still breathing in and out, getting out of bed, going to work and the store each day. It will be possible to do the mundane and everyday tasks of life, I know that because others who have walked where I am walking are doing it. They told me their stories and so I know it’s possible.
I know I am just at the door of grieving and that it will sneak up on me in months and years ahead and take me out at the knees when I least expect it. But I also know I have a community around me ready to raise me up when I stumble.
I promise I will return this blog to the purpose for which it was intended, but you may have noticed I write when I am sad or angry or confused or happy or… you get it.
I wrote the following letter a couple of days after my son died and I have been asked to share it here. At the time I was sitting in the darkness and just felt compelled to write. After I sent it to Mr. Miranda’s Facebook page I wondered why I did it. Looking back I remember an episode of M*A*S*H where Dr. Sidney Freedman is writing letters to Sigmund Freud to help himself to understand his own feelings.
I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m a writer and a sometime actor. I don’t write to Dr. Freud. It appears I write to Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Dear Mr. Miranda,
I find myself writing to you in this strange public forum because it is the only place I can imagine right now to reach out to you. I could not find an address to send a letter or email.
I have no actual expectation that you will ever read these words, but, gratitude, like forgiveness, is much more for the giver than the receiver. Even if this never reaches you it is still vital for me to say it.
My 13-year-old daughter is a fan of your work, specifically Hamilton, to a point that can only be adequately described as “with the love and obsession possessed by a 13-year-old girl for a piece of art that speaks to her soul.” Thus I have had the opportunity to not only see your masterwork live when it toured through Salt Lake City, but before and after that inspiring performance to hear the soundtrack on an almost daily loop playing in my home and car.
I therefore became a fan as well.
I am compelled now to write you, to thank you for all your work, but specifically for the song It’s Quiet Uptown. That song has played, not in my home or car, but in my head since Tuesday of this week when my eldest son took his own life.
This was not an act which followed a long struggle with depression or crippling mental illness. It happened in a moment when all the ingredients for such a terrible event were present: anger, an argument and a gun. In a moment that he could not take back he let those three elements take him away from his wife, family, brothers, sister and his mother and I.
I was not there when it happened but that does not prevent me from screaming into the past and begging him to stop and breathe and think for just one more moment. That breath and thought will never happen and all I am left with when the screaming grief and tears of his mother and siblings and I fade, is quiet. Quiet in desperate search of peace.
Though it is quiet outside, in my mind I still beg to hold him. I beg to trade his life for mine. But I am left in the end with quiet-where I try to push away the unimaginable. Where I try to live with the unimaginable.
I am searching Mr. Miranda. Next to me is my wife, we are together walking through the unimaginable.
My gratitude to you is for giving me the words, your words, the ones you gave to Alexander Hamilton and to Eliza Hamilton, that you unknowingly gave to my wife and I as well. Those same words you gave to all who are pushing through the unimaginable.
Now I must find my quiet place, my uptown, where I can do the unimaginable and find that grace too powerful to name.
I know it’s there. Because you told a tale that is rooted in truth. Somewhere there is peace. Somewhere there is grace. But right now it seems unimaginable.
I know it is not impossible. I feel the grace of eternity fighting to find a place in my heart. The faith I learned in church from my childhood tells me there is a place of peace beyond this, though I can’t see it now.
The lyrics that, I can tell you, were whispered into your heart by a loving father in heaven, speak to so many people, too many people, who must find a quiet place to look into the void and learn to live with the unimaginable.
Thank you for listening to that still small voice Mr. Miranda. Thank you for following where that voice inside led you. Thank you for giving those words to all of us pushing through the unimaginable. I know it can’t just be me that needs them.
I felt such a great need to tell you that, to express my thanks knowing that you may never hear it. That you may not know I wrote this does not matter when it comes to gratitude. Gratitude must be expressed.
Our great love to you,
Dale H Boam and family
(Thank you for reading this. I’ll get back to the whole interpreting thing now.)