Subj: Re: A transatlantic hug!

From The Bonnie Blue’s Flickr stream

Hi Devon,

Writing this e-mail feels a little strange, mainly because it’s not what I was expecting to say to you at all.

I had intended to relay the curious tale of how a straight white Scottish girl (me!) found herself perusing the web-page of an intelligent, funny, erudite and thought provoking gay guy from America. But now, having read the sad news of the loss of your beloved grandfather, I think that it should remain a story for another day. For now, I just wanted to say how very sorry I am for your loss. I know that nothing much can help at the moment. So often people talk about how to cope with this kind of situation. I have found that you don’t so much cope as simply endure. But endurance requires courage, tenacity, strength of character, foresight, insight and an unshakable belief that it will, in the end, be worth it. That life will get better again.

From the very little I know of you through your own writings and through the testimony of others who have written to you and about you, I have no doubt that you have these personal qualities and attributes in abundance, and I suspect many other virtues which I, as yet, know nothing of. And this reassures me that through your own efforts, and with the help and support of your family and friends, you will make it through this difficult time, and, as it would seem you have done during other times in your life, you will find something positive and life affirming within the sadness.

Keeping you in my thoughts,
Love Helen


I don’t know if you have heard of/read someone named Kahlil Gibran (especially his book The Prophet – not at all religious I promise, just incredibly spiritual and affecting). Anyway, he wrote this, and somehow I thought it spoke directly to your situation. Hope it helps even a little.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
– Kahlil Gibran

Hi Helen,

Helen, Helen, HELEN! I don’t know what I did to deserve an email like that, but I am crying. And in a very good way. That couldn’t be any more eloquent, generous, or beautiful. I had fallen from my 7-week spiritual high, what with Grampa’s passing and some of the dysfunction I’d seen within my family last week. I’d sunk into funk these last 10 days. I hadn’t been sleeping or eating (which makes me confrontational), and it was all compounding into depression. I know me, and I can’t let that happen.

This morning, I was laying in bed focusing on how GOOD my life is, how WONDERFUL it is. (I have more to be grateful for than almost anyone I know!) I went through my Wellness Affirmations from this past Thanksgiving, really absorbing them again, trying to haul myself back into being whole by re-examining my Perfect Meditation from a couple weeks ago. I needed to re-achieve “wellness” and “whole,” so that the rest of the meditation would follow. But I kept stopping at the last part: I am happy.

I stumbled on it repeatedly. It felt disrespectful to say or feel it; however, I know that Grampa wouldn’t want me to be unhappy. He would never want that – he would want me to be invigorated by his memory, not miserable in his loss. I walked over to pick up a well-timed delivery of chocolate from a friend in Boston, and as I crunched toward the leasing office I got through saying “I am happy” several times. It was as if the ice veneer snapping under my feet had cracked open specifically to erupt with the fluffy white powder underneath (just for my entertainment!). It was like tiptoeing on crème brûlée, and how can THAT not be fabulous? I don’t understand the minutiae making it true, but saying “I am happy” within explodes “I am happy” without.

I am happy! (*step; crunch; puff of snow; smile…)

And then I get this email… just in the nick of time. Just as that initial excitement was calming back down. Being neutral is balanced, but I was falling down past neutral. I want to post this on my blog, because I want people to see specifically how reaching out and doing something kind (even to strangers!) creates a fracturing effect: Love breaks sadness. It is real. I am so happy you wrote to me, and I didn’t even know you existed until now. What if all introductions could be like this?? What hardness could be broken, so that softness could erupt?

This is amazing: Even before you shared the Gibran quote, that cracking shell imagery was already at work in my head today while walking outside in the snow. There are no coincidences. Thanks again for taking the time to write me something so helpful and inspiring. I also want to thank everyone else who, whether publicly or privately, has sent me encouragement and sympathy. Please know that it matters. It really does, and I am grateful to be the recipient of your good will.

I hope you are well,
Love Devon

Author: Devon Hunter

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  1. Can you keep our flooded city in your thoughts please – people, pets, children have passed away and my city is under seige from huge flooding. Thanks.

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  2. Definitely!! I hope everything gets better there soon!! I’ve been reading really bad news, and I hope you are safe and sound.

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  3. Helen
    You have written what many of us have been trying to say to Devon in many different ways since learning of his Grampa’s passing. Devon is a special person to many of us. You had the sensitive, selection of words which were very special to Devon. Thank you.

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    • Hi Bob,

      I really felt compelled to write that e-mail to Devon. I can’t tell you how totally unlike me it is to have written to a complete stranger! But I am VERY glad that I did : 0) It’s amazing how a spontaneous and random act can have such a positive effect. And it’s so good to see how many people care about Devon. And I totally believe you when you say he’s special : 0) xXx

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  4. Devon I am doing wonderful thanks not in a flood zone but as I write this it is about to get worse. Thanks for watching where I live ;). Love reading Helen’s stuff.

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    • Michael,

      I hope you and you family and friends are still safe and sound. There seems to be little that I can say that can possibly be of any comfort right now. The scale of the devastation is of biblical proportions. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. But you were asking Devon earlier to keep your country in his thoughts. The one thing I can promise you is that in my little corner of the world, everyone, and I do mean everyone’s (myself,family, friends, work colleagues) thoughts are with you. Stay safe xXx

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  5. Hi Helen.
    As one of Devons friends, let me say thank you as well. You see I hate it when my good friend is blue, or upset, and I think sometimes he needs the reminder that he is loved and well thought of even by those he hasn’t met yet.
    To all the folks in Australia that are having such a terrible time. You are in my heart and prayers. May love, luck and laughter come your way soon.

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    • Hey Keith,

      I had no idea when I sent that e-mail that Devon would find it so helpful and I had no idea that he would want to share that with others. To someone who has no facebook, doesn’t blog or tweet, it was a bit strange to see my e-mail up there on his page and then to have people comment on it. But, I’m glad in a way because your replies to me must make it even clearer to Devon how much he is loved and cared for. And I feel very priviledged to have been welcomed by all of you, so thanks! xXx

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  6. It seems that most of us underestimate our own value, or the effect our actions will have on the world. a simple expression of hopeful faith for another and we all feel a little warmer and tomorrow seems a little brighter.

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  7. Helen and Christopher.
    In Devons case he really does underestimate his impact on others. I am honored every day to have him among my friends. Kiddo needs to be reminded that he is important to a lot of people. So thanks to everyone that tells him from time to time. Love ya Devon…now get back to work! LOL

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