November 25, 2015
Earlier this afternoon — day before Thanksgiving – i held for the first time a copy of The Last Sweet Mile, a book about my brother Gary. When i started writing it 18 months ago, i was not setting out to write a book. Rather, i simply wanted to compose a letter to my family in hopes of having some permanent record of one who had been son, brother, uncle, cousin, and mentor to our tribe of 37 souls. My hope was to remind us of the blessing it had been to know Gary.
i did most of my writing at a neighbor’s quaint cabin in the woods just west of where i live. The letter got longer and longer (and really should be longer still) until, in terms of sheer volume, it began to feel bookish. The few who read it early on, including author Leigh McLeroy and my Dad, encouraged me to make it available to more than just family. So we’ve ordered some extras, and have them in hand, prayerful that they will end up where they might do some good to those who eventually read them.
I had the extreme good fortune of working with Pete Peterson on the project. Pete – himself an author, editor, bibliophile, Hutchmoot organizer, and ‘curator’ of an on-line community called The Rabbit Room (www.rabbitroom.com) — took my very barely-organized draft of the book and guided me through re-writes, additions and layout. “The patience of Job” is a phrase that comes to mind when i think of his collaboration. “The kindness of a true saint” is another.
It is no small source of pride that he would allow the book to be published with The Rabbit Room imprimatur on it. I am deeply in Pete’s debt, and grateful for my new friendship with him.
There was a measure of satisfaction in holding the book this afternoon and in inscribing copies for the family this evening. But i am under no delusion. My writing does not remotely do justice to the subject matter. As literature, it fails every minimal standard. As memoir, it very likely violates every rule of engagement. But maybe as an honest attempt by an amateur to recall a life, to capture a season, and to express love for a departed friend, it works in a way that will provoke thought, invite gratitude, and offer hope.
So … with gratefulness in mind, might i say once more how much i appreciate you who bless me with your visits, affirm me with your encouragement, and make the miles of my journey so pleasant? All the best for your Thanksgiving.