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Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Letter to Tom Nattell -- Back in December of 2004, I linked to an essay on the winter solstice by Albany-area writer Tom Nattell. In the current issue of Metroland, Nattell has revealed that he has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has only months likely left to live.

What follows is a letter I sent to Metroland's editor, asking him to pass it on to Tom. I have never had any contact with the man until now, but I felt I had to send him this.

Dear Tom,

I read your essay this week with great dismay, and wanted to drop you a line to express my thanks for your willingness to discuss your illness so honestly.

I first really took note of your writing in Metroland last year, with your essay on the winter solstice of 2003. That piece stuck with me throughout 2004, and when the solstice came at the end of the year, I linked to the piece in my weblog and used some of your prose (crediting you, of course) for an e-card that I sent to friends to mark the occasion.

I am truly sorry to learn that you are ill, although I salute the forthright manner in which you seem to be dealing with it. It's nothing less than what I would expect, given the deep humanism that informs your writing.

I'm sure I'm not the only stranger to write you after the publication of this week's essay. Metroland has shined for me for the past few years as one of the very last remaining beacons of light in an increasingly dark world, and your writing has come to stand out for me as something that must always be paid attention to. I know I should have written before now, so I hope you'll forgive my lateness, but I could not wait another day after reading what you had to say this week.

I wish you all good luck, and please know you are in the thoughts and hearts of all who have been touched by your words. You've made our lives better by sharing of yourself, and you've truly been an inspiration to me to try to do the same. Thank you, and bless you.


I'd appreciate it if all of you reading this could remember Tom in your thoughts and prayers. His writing has really touched my life, and I hope yours, as well.


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