Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dear Elvis


My new book, Dear Elvis, is a story about a woman who, after learing about the death of a beloved friend, turns to her childhood idol for guidance. In a series of letters to Elvis, she describes her overwhelming sense of loss and disbelief. Along the way she meets a complete stranger, a priest named Father Chris, who encourages her to continue her search for answers and sends her on an unforgettable journey to Graceland and Tupelo. The following are exerpts from the first two letters.
   
1.
Dear Elvis,

I’m sorry that you’re dead. Forty-two was much too young to die and you have been dead for such a long time. But then dead is dead, or at least that’s what a writing instructor told me once. He said there are no comparative or superlative forms for dead. There is no dead, deader, deadest. There is only just dead. But then I’ll bet you already knew that.  
     
 So listen Elvis, where are you? Are you in heaven? And if you are, where is heaven? To tell you the truth, I kind of believe in heaven. So there must be one. I just don’t know where it is and I kind of figured you would know...
Sincerely,
Toni

2.
Dear Elvis,

I miss my buddy. I miss my friend. I miss the man who once called me the love of his life and who was the love of mine. Once, we were so close that when asked about the relationship between us, I jokingly told someone he and I were Siamese twins separated at birth. Never once did I think what it would be like to be separated by death.

When he died I felt so deeply and intensely lost that for weeks no other thoughts entered my mind. Two days after he died I dreamt I was standing inside his house and, even though I was aware that he was gone, I felt great peace even in the moments just after awakening.  

Afterward however, I began again to struggle with his death as though it were some kind of ancient dragon I had to fight and defeat before I could even begin to feel better. And even as I struggled with his death, I tried to deny it, unable to form a simple sentence that would contain both his name and the word ‘died’ in it....

I miss him, Elvis. Sometimes I miss him so much I feel as though I have lost my twin. Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot. I forgot about you and your twin. I forgot about how much you missed him. People probably didn’t believe that. They probably didn’t believe you could miss someone you’d never even met, but I believed it. I still believe it.

I felt like that when I met Don. I felt as though I’d always known him. Even before we met. But not in the womb, sometime before that. Is there a time before that?