Letter to Henry Wallace, 17 months

Dear Henry,

I’m terribly remiss with your letters.  I’m late with this one and I didn’t write one at all last month.  The reasons go hand-in-hand.  And this letter might end up sounding more to me than you.

This month your namesake died.  He did not just die: he hanged himself.  This happened to be the week after my doctors and I came to the conclusion that mega doses of Omega 3s and magnesium, yoga, twice monthly acupuncture, and twice monthly talk therapy were not enough to get me feeling well again.  But the fact is that I’ve been out of my mind with anxiety for about 4 months now.  I didn’t feel like I had any more time left.  So the week before David Foster Wallace committed suicide, I went back on Zoloft.  I was hopeful.

How are you supposed to explain to your child that sometimes people can get help and it isn’t enough?  As someone who has watched friends and family struggle with mental health, as someone who is struggling right now, this is quite possibly the most uncomfortable truth there is.  I don’t want to sugarcoat life for you, Henry, but I don’t want to depress you either.  And yet I feel it needs to be addressed.  So I’ve sat here paralyzed, unable to write.

I thought about telling you how to separate the artist from the art.  But this artist was a kind and gentle person, who even though he was busy as hell, thought enough to send your father and I a card on our wedding day.  I thought about some nature/nurture mumbo jumbo, but my logic was flawed.  I choose to believe your namesake had a terminal illness.  We didn’t name you for his illness; we named you for his art.  If he was a woman and had breast cancer, we’d say he had a double masectomy and chemo and radiation (he was in therapy and medicated for over 25 years), but in the end, his particular cancer was too aggressive.  It’s one of life’s tragedies. The truth is we named you after someone whose work will continue to inspire us, long after he is gone.  I know we have several years before you ask about your name, but that’s what I’ve got for now.



About jordanbucher

My name is Jordan E. Bucher, formerly Jordan E. Pitcher, aka Wondertwin, Tadpole, Jojo. I live in Austin, TX by way of NYC for 7 years, London for a stop, Minnesota for 4 years, and Kansas for 18 very long years. I am married to Matt for nearly 4 years (smooching on and off for 7), and we have a son Henry Wallace who is almost 1. A crazy sheltie named Riley also lives with us. She herds sheep and vacuum cleaners in her sleep. I have worked in publishing for 10 years. I started as an editor and switched to being a publicist because I thought it would be cool to get paid for watching tv and reading magazines all day. I am proud to say I was a cupcake artist at Magnolia Bakery on my days off, way before the Saturday Night Live rap. I have met Carrie Bradshaw and Felicity, and once Kyle McLaughlin flirted with me. My interests include bran, sending inappropriate emails to unintended recipients, and naps (not mine, of course: Henry's). I like sushi and red meat. And red wine.
This entry was posted in Henry Wallace, insomnia/anxiety, newsletters and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Letter to Henry Wallace, 17 months

  1. lareinaelena says:

    Jordan– sending you a HUGE hug from MN. Knowing when to ask for help and to get it is a great thing to be able to do. I’m so proud of you.

    We had a friend take his life this past December. It continues to be one of the most difficult things for us to get over, if you will. I send you strength and courage to grieve as you need to while maintaining your own health.

    Much love,

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