Steve Date did a marvelous job with the story of The Letter and I found it not only inspirational but profoundly spiritual in nature. I think we are not meant to understand such things as the letter from your father being returned to you at exactly the time you needed it. Still, in our hearts, we know the truth when such things happen, that we never truly lose our loved ones and that in some manner, they yet care for us and love us forever. I describe Emily Sue Buckberry in Rocket Boys as being a great and true friend, one that could be trusted with secrets. As a young woman in high school, she was both astonishingly gregarious and inwardly soulful which is a unique blend of personality traits. As an adult, she is not much changed. I am glad she has reentered your life and I am also glad she has never left mine.
—Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys. [Visit: Homer Hickam’s website]
Your story The Letter is heavy, very heavy, very sad, painful, emotionally ugly in fact. No one wants to experience your issues. Some are willing to touch pain–others avoid it. You have, through the saddest event a parent can have, something of incredible beauty. That letter of your father is a man showing the love that gives meaning to human life. The timing of the letter to the anniversary startles with a measure of the incredible to a reader. But you have no reason to lie. It is the compounded experience of several profound events all coming together in a vortex of time. That overwhelms me. Yours is a story of discovery working through grief as a man unites a parent’s suicide with the loss of a son. The unifying force is you—the son and father as one now— forced against his will, as it always is, to deal with two dramatic life events now united. You are creating something that you must live. Us outsiders want to see how you do it. It may inspire and help others not only with similar losses, but to show a healing process for a loss with deep emotional impact.
—Jim, a recovering attorney and high school latin teacher from Alexandria, VA.
There have been very few times in my life where emotion has caught me by surprise or I didn’t see it coming. And although I knew what you and your family had been through before seeing and reading The Letter, I did not expect to be so deeply moved. Not because I lack compassion but because most people do not have the strength and courage to find revelation in tragedy—and then the humanity to make it available to others to benefit. You have. I would have given up, had something similar happened to me. I would have become resentful of everyone and everything, including God. But your conviction and courage to share this story is more than inspiring, it’s necessary in order to make the unthinkable tolerable and elevate the human spirit. I hope this doesn’t sound presumptuous but you have taken control of your destiny and made this observer a better man for it. My wife and I watched the film The Letter and found it moving, profound and cathartic. It’s a film everyone should see. Jimmy was a friend who supported me by coming to New York when my film Yonkers Joe premiered. We miss him very much. Your brother, Genro, is the best man I know. But even without our close connections I would support this film because it pierces the heart and is very well made. Please let Steve Date know that I think he is a terrific filmmaker.
—Robert Celestino, Director (Yonkers Joe, Mr. Vincent, True Convictions, Leave)