|My Letter to Royle McKay||June 8, 2005|
You don’t know me, but I have to tell you what I think before I hurt someone. I wouldn’t even know who you are if my mom hadn’t sent me the new church manuals this year like she does every year. She figures if I don’t go to church I might read them anyway and while browsing through the manual about your father I read about your death.
The way you died really upsets me. I know what pleurisy is like. It hurts like a bitch. I had a case of it four years ago and each breath I took felt like a knife in the ribs and the doctor even told me it was a minor case. I cannot imagine what it was like for your two and a half year old body to be racked by pleurisy on both sides. The thought of you not having the words or even the strength to express the pain you were in just makes me sick.
But what gets me, what really makes me livid is what your father wrote: “The end came at 1:50 A.M, without even a twitch of a muscle, ‘He is not dead but sleepeth’ was never more applicable to any soul, for he truly went to sleep. He did not die.”
That’s a lie. You didn’t fall asleep, Royle. You died. And I know your dad was a good man, and fine there’s a resurrection, and sure kids that die so young go to the Celestial Kingdom, but that’s no comfort to me. Death is not sleep and you and I both know you died.
I’m sorry. You were cheated of your mortal existence–that deserves anger, that deserves rage, it even deserves hatred in my book. You didn’t fall in love or kiss a girl for the first time. You didn’t get married, or see your kids get married, or hold a grandchild on your knee. I imagine your dad did everything to please God and for what, to have his two-year old die an agonizing death. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing your dad shook his fist at the sky? I would. Shouldn’t your death be marked with someone, somewhere being mad as hell? If it wasn’t significant for them to get angry about then it’s significant enough to me now to record how I really feel. Why should Mormons think it’s right or even healthy to attempt to live, or pretend to live anger-free lives?
That’s what I’m really furious about. This doctrine, or culture, or whatever that minimizes our mortal lives to a mere blip in a spectrum of eternity, that makes us equate dying with a nap. Mortality isn’t just some test where we should sacrifice happiness here in the hopes of eternal reward. It’s more than just that. Somedays I wonder if it’s not all we get. Either way it’s a fine state of being and living is where it’s at, and when a kid like you dies before things have even begun I reserve the right to be royally pissed off.
We diminish tragedies like what happened to you, Royle when we don’t get angry. When we don’t scream out that it’s wrong. And I just want you to know, Royle, that I for one am angry about what happened to you. It breaks my heart.