A Piece of My Mind: A Writer's Last Words
Bennet Pomerantz

Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
   ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

This letter is NOT fiction. This is a letter I personally received. It has been edited for content and language.

First, a few facts. My friend Jonathan died in the middle of December. Cancer took him from all of us who loved him. He fought a three-year battle with colon cancer. He worked up until six months ago, when he said he could not work full time anymore. He took early retirement to spend time with his family and see if he could beat this cancer. In the end, the demon enemy still won the war.

He was, as he once called himself, “a government package” writer. He wrote those books and fliers you get from our government. I bet many of you have read a piece or two of his work. He once remarked to me “Did you see the new Social Security benefit pamphlet that just came out, I wrote that!” He was so proud of his work - as any other writer would be. As he once told me, he wrote best sellers that you may see and never ever read.

On Christmas Eve, about two weeks after he passed away. I received a two-page handwritten letter from him. The letter was written two days before he died. The missive brought me to tears and a smile or two as I read it.

Dear Bennet

You know I have been feeling sicker these days. I have been wanting to write this letter to you. It has been a long time since we talked. Joyce recently told me how much she missed your witty banter over our dinner table. What I remember the most are our discussions about writing and the craft of writing. They were always full of zest, funny and even inspiring to me. For that, I must thank you.

How do I sum up a lifetime of putting ideas on paper? If we were conversing on the phone or in person, we would be talking for hours.

Well, old friend, this letter is my venting on paper. I tried to call you (Personal note: I was on a trip when he called). You understand reflection is a painful bedfellow when you look way back. So I am bleeding out my rant on paper to you. I feel you would understand this best. Pardon my grammar and spelling mistakes since I am just free writing as you have always told many writers to do. What the expressions you said. JUST LET IT FLOW!

I remember when you talked to that young writer at the workshop we both went to a few years ago. During your question and answer session, He said he was new at writing and wanted advice. Many in the audience laughed at him when he asked how you thought of writing. You overlooked the group and looked right at him. In a gentle voice you told him that his pen was like a sharp sword. Words can cut a slice of bread, bring someone to their knees and maim them, or give them hope. You then told him “Always give the reader hope.” Many who laughed were suddenly silent. I think you should have been a teacher.

You once asked me when I considered myself a writer (click here to read the column). I told you my answer. I also said to you that my work was not worth printing. I said I am and will always be a government hack. You said I wasn’t! For that I will be indebted to you. You told me any writing is still writing. I looked at my job differently from then on. I do not know if I became prouder after we talked, but I felt my words meant something.

Bennet, you bring such joy and passion to your work. You try your best to share that vibe with many. You tell them to listen to the inner voices in their head and write from their heart. You always push for everyone else to do better than you. I saw it many times when writers ask you advice in the workshop halls, at dinner and just about everywhere including the bathroom. You just give it so freely, I wonder if you made time for yourself. You told me “These men and women are my future. If no one answers their questions, it would be a great waste and a true loss.”

I have not told you this and I been meaning to for a long time. I regale in your true life tales about being a writer that you tell these students. I, as many others, have enjoyed your columns as well. It is the real you that comes out in your words.

If I don’t have a chance to talk, Just know that I know you are an amazing man. It has been a joy to know you.


Once I finished the letter, a smile and tears streaked my face. We lose so many in our lives. After I put the letter down, I called my mother on the phone and just said “I LOVE YOU MOM”. She asked if there was something wrong. I just said “No, Mom, I have not said it enough!” Is there a message, maybe for 2010, we need to tell those around us that we love them more.

RIP Jon, I miss you very much! I thank your wife Joyce for allowing me to reprint this letter. I hope she and your daughters enjoyed me reprinting your letter. Note Joyce, I did edited out all the Bombs that Jon wrote. He can curse like a sailor, even in a letter. However I write a PG column!

So until next time, REACH FOR THE STARS!

This article is the sole property of the author. It is produced here with the author's permission.  The unauthorized use or reprinting of an article is illegal, and will be prosecuted at the discretion of the author.

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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.