Dear Stephen Jay Schwartz,
Thank you for giving me “Yahrzeit Candle” to read. I find it shining. Evocative. Penetrating. I hope it will be published.
Nov. 20, ’85.
I wrote my first short story just weeks after my father died. Well, saying he died doesn’t really pack the right punch. I was twenty years old when my father killed himself. I had just finished my first year in college, studying jazz at what was then called North Texas State University, in Denton, Texas. I left music to study writing and filmmaking and was currently enrolled at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California. I was working as a grocery store bagger at Alpha Beta in Santa Cruz when I got the call that my father, a respected pediatrician in Albuquerque, had taken his life.
I’d been in shock before. I was fourteen when my parents divorced and it was six months before I came out of the stupor. I stumbled through those months like a zombie when suddenly it hit me that my parents had parted and I crumbled. I hadn’t known I’d held feelings of fear and anxiety beneath the surface. Everything had seemed under control.
So, when my father died, I knew that hiding my emotions would only make things worse. I decided to throw myself into my writing, hoping to keep my emotions at the forefront of my thoughts…