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  • Writer's pictureGerald Tindal

Day 69: On writing and writing on


My letter today is about the subject line. The question’s why? Why do I arise early in the morning and write a letter to you? Your death is 69 days ago and you have no way to read them. Or do you? I can tell you a few knowns about writing.

For the past 35 years, I’ve written and taught writing. It’s what I’ve done for a living. Writing is a self-definition: hundreds of journal articles, book chapters, books, conference papers, technical reports, grant applications. Words flying about, creating a direction and movement forward. A migration of sorts. Ideas and proposals. Conjectures and refutations. Structure the logic and tell a story with a unifying idea. The science of education, laying out a more orderly way to behave. In classrooms and schools, mostly.

But this writing’s different. It’s not about orderly ways to behave in classrooms and schools. It’s more about the messy and disorderly ways of life and death. Your death. The writing’s about bringing the collective views of others into a glimpse of what you meant to all of us. The life and times of KT, the one we all knew. Differently. The joys you brought so we can continue them. Not let this funny wild ride end and go home so we then move on without you.

The writing’s different because of our souls. Focused on purpose and life. Worth and value. What happens after the functions of the day are achieved. Accomplished. It’s about interpretations that happen after the achievements. The reflections on taking what is to what next, but with reasons that rise above the actions and reactions of the day.

The words used in my letters are profoundly different than what I’ve used in the past. They mix together differently. Their lineage is uniquely spliced by time, life and death. Placed in an order for discord. Played off each other. Leaving space between them that implies but somehow fails an intended purpose. Or perhaps provides an unintended purpose. More and different purposes, allowing interpretations that vary with people and reading.

I hope one day, my writing can help us understand better what you were all about and keeps you in our lives. Changes our lives. So that your sudden death can leave us better people. More in the moment and celebrating what we do if only because that we do. Take the words that reflect the collective, the wisdom of crowds as James Surowiecki so famously coined it. My letters to you are personal and public as we should be. Personally attached to others with care.

My letters may one day end as they should. But I hope they settle on words of acceptance with your presence, providing a direction forward with others. More sadness than grief. More life than death. We love you.


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