True to her seemingly tireless nature, and owing sadly to her mania, in addition to everything else she did, my sister Amanda was also a (self-)published author of several books. The Young Physician’s Guide to Money and Life stands apart from her other publications as the only one with a co-author (the endlessly wonderful Dave Denniston of Freedom Formula for Physicians Podcast) as well as the only one published posthumously. In fact she essentially abandoned the then unfinished book to Dave.

Besides furnishing his own writings, Dave braved organizing the chapters, finalizing editing, coordinating design, and generally seeing this arduous project to completion. He approached me to write a preface, and was incredibly respectful and supportive. It greatly comforts me to know Amanda spent time working with someone like him at the end.

When I drafted my preface, I found that though I wanted to address potential readers, I also had a lot I wished I could say to Amanda. So I ended up writing two different versions. Dave wisely chose the version intended for the book’s readers to include. And here below is what I wrote to Amanda then.

Dear Amanda,

I am writing now, now that I have lost you.

You asked me to work on this book in April 2016, after I joined your blog. Working closely together was intense and stressful. I left your projects when we had a big fight, and I felt hurt.

Today, I don’t think about the day you took your own life. I think about that fight. I think about how it began, as normal conversation, in which you urged me to publish. When you heard me hesitate, you pushed harder and grew agitated. At the time I could think only of how aggressive you sounded, and how you were treating me. Now, what jumps out about the fight is how it began with your belief in me and desire to see me thrive. What jumps out about after is how you reached out to mend our relationship. I didn’t know then, but I know now how a conversation can spin out of control so quickly. Now I have a sliver of an idea how your mind can work against you.

Less than half a year after that fight, I lost you. Since then, often I thought I was too hard on you. I should have comforted, indulged you more. Other times I thought I was too lenient. I should have forced you to seek the care you so clearly needed. My therapist says thinking “I should have…” is called bargaining, and that it’s natural. That’s surely so, but it isn’t productive. You would not have liked me to bargain uselessly with the past. You chased productivity to what seemed an impossible degree.
You once wrote on your blog one ought to “optimize what’s in your control and omit thoughts and energy for what’s not in your control”. So today I’m taking a chapter from you, and I’m turning every plea into a pledge. Today, I don’t mourn what you miss in your short life, and I celebrate what you valued. Readers of yours know your advocacy for education, knowledge, learning and the sharing of these. Anyone who reads is one who knows you cared about eating right, eliminating debt, reducing negative environmental impact and a myriad of other good, positive things.

Anyone who gleams knows how intensely and profoundly you loved Mini. Today, I don’t settle for that she does not grow up in the shadow of your achievements or your suicide, I pledge to live in the light with her. Whenever I miss you now, I will seek out what my energy and time can be spent on to honor your life. I want to be the sister you were so proud of that you’d call just to encourage her to publish.
Your email signature used to say: “gratitude is the key to happiness”, but because you always wanted so much more out of life, I used to find it almost jarring. Now I’m teaching myself that wanting more doesn’t mean we’re ungrateful. Gratitude and the want for more are equally great motivators. I am both grateful to have known you, and wish that I could have done more for you and had more time with you. These thoughts drive me to do better, today and everyday after, for everyone I love and everyone you loved. Caring for and supporting the people you loved is how I get to have you stay with me.

Writing today I think maybe I have not totally lost you to the vast dark. After all, even writing makes me feel closer to you now. Who knows, maybe that children’s book of yours will be next for me.



Thoughts for a Thursday – Dear Amanda
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6 thoughts on “Thoughts for a Thursday – Dear Amanda

  • April 2, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    Thanks for sharing.
    My thought is that everyone ends up ok.
    I tend to worry about not having done enough or this or that.
    Regrets, there can be too many of them.
    Regrets can be a barrier.
    Everyone is human, we all have regrets.
    I tend to try to think it’s ok. Whatever happened happened.
    Can’t change the past.
    Let go of regret.

    • April 2, 2019 at 8:45 AM

      Also your description of argument reminds me of this song:
      I wish I knew the answers.
      I wish you the best in finding your way and making meaning out of everything.

      • April 4, 2019 at 5:45 AM

        – Regrets can be a barrier.

        You’re 100% right. I have to remind myself sometimes. I think maybe I let myself get away with Regret Lite (TM) because I’ll often think “I can’t say I have regrets; I just need to do Better”. And that creates its own set of pressures much like regular regret does, hmm.

        – Also your description reminds me of this song:

        Thank you! It’s a good song, new to me too. I especially liked the line “love rights its own wrongs”. When we’re lucky like I have been, it really does. What a beautiful thought to start my day with, thanks again 🙂

        • April 4, 2019 at 6:59 AM

          Interesting imagery I thought. Quite bleak but honest.
          Rain, tears, grief, love, loss, heartache, sky again.

          I liked that line too “love rights its own wrongs…”

          Also, I liked
          “And the heart knows it’s own mind
          And the heart sees and the heart’s blind”

          I sort of think, often there is a truth in what we feel and a reason why we feel as we do.
          It’s probably ok if our heart chooses to see or to be blind.
          I think often people are too hard on themselves.
          I try to cut myself more slack as I get older.

          Regret is a painful emotion. To me it’s like admitting I made a mistake or caused something bad to happen.

          But it can just be that we wished things were different. Even where we made a mistake, I guess no one can be perfect and we have to let go of regret. I listened to a success coach talking about financial mistakes once and something that resonated with me was when he said: one of the things he found holding people back was significant regret (and shame and guilt) about mistakes they thought they had made.

  • March 14, 2019 at 10:20 AM

    That is so beautiful, insightful, generous, loving and very wise.

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