dear Quinn

June 24, 2011

I have spent the past couple of days working on a project: writing a letter to Quinn, Emmett’s 3-year-old son.  It took me several days before that to even convince myself to begin.  But Emmett’s wife, Wendy, had asked Emmett’s friends to write down their memories of Emmett so that Quinn can remember his daddy.

The problem was, I suddenly felt guilty for the 17 or so years of friendship I had shared with Emmett, while Quinn knew his daddy for less than 4.  17:4 seems like an incredibly unfair ratio.  A sense of dread about writing the letter set in for a couple of days.  When I resigned to the fact that there is nothing I can do about this ratio, I said a few prayers, sat down, and started writing.

Much to my surprise, I did not write the letter with a torrent of tears.  I got a little misty at times, but overall, I found that writing to Quinn was a joy-giving experience.  It allowed me time to remember a great friend and the wonderful memories we made together.

I did encounter one major problem in writing the letter, though: I could not recall many specific, detailed memories of Emmett from our adolescence.  I wanted to be able to tell Quinn about the time that his dad said this funny thing, or had that embarrassing moment, or won some award…  I remembered a couple of those, but for the most part, my memories of Emmett were one big blur of my high school experience.  Emmett was always there.

Emmett was always there.

That was it.  If my high school years had been a sitcom (and they often felt much like one), Emmett would have been cast as the sidekick character who always walks on the scene during a crisis moment and dispels the tension with a joke, a word of wisdom, or a hug.  Between four years of German, several English classes, and band practice after school, I probably spent more waking moments with Emmett than I did with most of my other peers.  He was always there, and his friendship and care for me were unwavering.  Loyal does not even begin to capture this aspect of Emmett’s character.

So I wrote to Quinn about that.  And I wrote about his great sense of humor, his perfectionism, and his poor handwriting.  I told Quinn everything I could think about Emmett’s character.  I tried my best to paint a picture of the guy who was my ever-present friend in high school.

And pictures: I included photos from high school and college.  I copied what Emmett wrote to me on the back of his senior picture.  And I copied a page from a yearbook he had signed.  I even dug up an old demo tape of Emmett’s college band, but decided I’d keep that one for myself since Wendy already has one.

Writing this letter feels very final to me–almost like closure.  It is one of the last tangible things I will do to honor my friend’s memory.  I don’t really want to put this envelope fat with memories into the mailbox, but I know that in doing so, I am helping a little boy get to know his daddy.  I am participating in the legacy that Emmett leaves behind.  My grief is not finished, but perhaps once that letter is on its way to Nashville, I will be able to take one more step in that grief process.  And if I don’t, that’s okay, too.



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