A stirring collection of letters written by a grieving father to his late son, who died of a drug overdose.
Debut author Dison’s son James died in 2005 at the age of 34 after struggling with substance abuse for most of his adult life. After sharing the details of that tragic day, the author steps back in time to James’ childhood, reflecting on the tender moments that they shared as he raised him as a single parent. Then came the “stormy times” of James’ adolescence: “As you drifted further in to the drug culture, I drifted into despair and helplessness. You and I drifted further and further apart.” In James’ adulthood, a combination of drug addiction and mental illness gripped him time and time again. Despite this, Dison writes, his son always “kept looking for and finding ways…to climb out of that deep hole” by repeatedly seeking treatment until he could do so no longer. Throughout the author’s reflections, there’s a persistent longing for connection with his son, both to reaffirm the affectionate ties they’d developed over a lifetime and also to make amends for past regrets. But Dison also carefully considers his audience, turning his highly personal reflections into a straightforward chronological and thematic storyline. His words subtly implore readers to cherish their own loved ones, and his statements of regret often serve as admonitions to those facing similar circumstances: “I wish so much that I had displayed more compassion for you, and less judgment based on my limited understanding.” Readers will be touched by the author’s authenticity, which often shines through: “I was challenged by you, proud of you, pleased by you, exasperated by you, thrilled by you, annoyed by you, energized by you, exhausted by you, and the list could go on and on.”
A somber but beautiful collection of letters that teach profound lessons in a delicate way.