Kelly DeLong’s essay “Perfectly Built Spaces” [November 2022] brought tears to my eyes. It is a gift to have such a place of shelter and nurture in one’s memory. I know this because I am blessed with a similar memory of a place: Next to my computer monitor is a picture of my grandparents’ house. The physical space is long gone, but the feeling of home endures.
“Perfectly Built Spaces,” by Kelly DeLong, reminded me of my grandma’s house, especially her basement. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was where my family celebrated holidays. One of my earliest memories is of eating mashed potatoes at my grandma’s dining table, surrounded by my family. This memory brings to mind such a strong feeling of love, belonging, and protection that I’ve often pictured my grandma’s basement when I’ve thought of heaven.
My grandma passed away recently. She lived into her nineties and was in poor health for the last few years. Now that she’s gone, I’ve had many dreams of her house, especially the basement. I like to think that means she’s in heaven.
I worked for thirty-five years in the child-welfare, child-protection, and adoption systems, and I agree with Faith Friedlander [“All in the Family,” interview by Mark Leviton, October 2022] that there is still much work to be done. All of the children I saw at an acute-care psychiatric hospital had devastating stories, but over time I noticed that the adopted children were the most difficult to engage. They seemed to have an extra set of issues and feelings to sort out. Caregivers and adoptive families need more training in the complexities of attachment to better help the children they care for.
I was a foster parent to more than twenty children in the 1980s, and I adopted two of the kids I fostered. I adore them, but, like Faith Friedlander, I know that adoption and early-childhood challenges are a heavy load to carry. I have also worked with adults in homeless shelters for many years. I try to make a personal connection when I can, but it is very little compared to the need.
Bringing children into the world should not be political. We need to love the ones who are here, including when they are grown.
Peter E. Murphy’s essay “Their Last Argument” [October 2022] artfully depicts a strained father-son relationship and a rare moment of connection. It left me gut-punched and gasping for air.
I’ve never written in my copies of The Sun; I’ve always been reluctant to mar the pages with my poor handwriting. But I was so taken with the braided structure of Elana Kupor’s essay about being hard of hearing [“The Thistle Steps,” October 2022] that I labeled each section with the author’s age and made a timeline in the margins.
I am very sensitive to noise and usually wear earplugs when I sleep. In fact, I am wearing earplugs as I write this at 2 AM, because the sound of rain on the roof woke me up. Kupor’s essay helped me realize how privileged I am to have not only my hearing, but the luxury of all my senses.
Although I live near the Thistle Steps that Kupor writes about, I’ve never climbed them. I plan to do so soon. Who knows, I might run into the author.
I can strongly relate to “The Thistle Steps,” by Elana Kupor, because I, too, have an invisible disability. I have no sense of smell. Few people know this unless I tell them, and I’ve pretended to smell things many times: when someone gives me a scented candle or perfume for Christmas, or when someone comments on how fragrant the lilac bush is. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend than to explain. But when my children were babies, I couldn’t smell when they needed a diaper change. I can’t tell if dinner’s burning if I step away from the stove for too long. And I worry that if there’s ever a gas leak, I won’t know until I strike a match or flip a light switch.
Janice White’s Readers Write story [“Learning the Hard Way,” October 2022], about the murder of her baby, is a heartbreaking example of the need for criminal-justice reform in the United States. And I can’t stop wondering what happened to her son.
I read Barbara Kingsolver’s essay “Somebody’s Baby” [The Dog-Eared Page, October 2022] on election-day morning, when I woke with a familiar angst in my stomach. I wish that all voters would read Kingsolver’s words. I refuse to abandon hope that someday we will elect officials who make sure all children receive the support and services they need.
I agree with Barbara Kingsolver that Americans do not prioritize children the way many other cultures do. I have witnessed firsthand how they are valued in other parts of the world. In Greece my children were regarded with joy. In Spain my grandson is treated like a gift. And when I am in Canada, I can’t help but notice all of the swimming pools, play areas, and athletic fields. Kingsolver’s experience on an airplane — where a fellow passenger spoke about her daughter as if she weren’t human — is sorrowful. Isn’t kindness, above all, a reason to help?
Barbara Kingsolver describes something mothers in this country know all too well: children are considered a burden and an inconvenience instead of the nation’s treasure. As a former teacher to teenage mothers, I’ve seen this stark reality. While Congress squabbles over funding for food-assistance programs, low-cost childcare, preschool education, universal health care, and affordable housing, parents struggle alone, and our children pay the price. The nuclear family is not a sufficient basis for building a healthy, thriving society.
Kingsolver’s essay is not the first writing on the subject I’ve come across, but she is the kind of writer Goethe described when he wrote, “The most original authors of modern times are original not because they produce something new, but only because they are capable of saying things as if they had never been said before.”
One of the reasons I subscribe to The Sun is for the creative short stories. I especially enjoyed “Staying Under,” by Steve Pett [October 2022], which unfolds through the main character’s thoughts and remembrances, all in the span of a single breath. Keep publishing such great fiction, and I’ll keep looking forward to each issue.
While reading Joseph Holt’s essay “Ten Years Sober” [July 2022], I gasped when his date dropped a tequila-soaked lime into his tonic water. What a slap in the face to his sobriety journey. He handled it much better than I would have. I wasn’t sad to read that they didn’t stay together. The most important thing for a person in addiction recovery is support.
I have terrible anxiety and depression and can’t stand to read the news. I often feel out of touch, but I can always count on Sun writers and photographers to ease my loneliness. I feel better after reading each issue. My health insurance should cover the cost of my subscription as medicine!
Now that I am at the tender age of thirty-seven, my dad has informed me that I need to start paying for my own Sun magazines. So today I purchased a two-year subscription. The Sun is the best thing that comes in the mail each month.