A movement from working to retired to encore life is a journey. My journey started in Arizona, wound through 22 countries and 49 states. First the family followed us and now we follow them, finding ourselves in the First State.
I wanted to see how you were doing these days. I know you never expected to receive a letter from me, but I’ve often wondered what my crimes against you did to your life. I think you should know they weren’t crimes of passion: I planned every minute. I tricked you, I forced you, I took advantage of your weaknesses. I struck again and again; I haunted the best days of your life. I took more from you than you ever realized.
You didn’t notice I was stealing from you. I took everything in small amounts. There might have even been stretches of time when I stayed away from you, or you managed to travel away from me. These times were few and far between. I was with you many mornings and every night. I waited in the house while you were gone, and sat between you and family and friends.
You couldn’t stay away from me. You knew something was wrong. Some days you came closer than others to realizing what I was stealing from you. But I was careful to dress up my crime in pleasant pictures and pleasing sounds. Sometimes you thought I made you happier, or better. I never did. I stole, relentlessly. I never stopped, and my only aim was to hurt you.
I stole your money every month, and you gladly gave it to me.
I stole your health every day, keeping you immobile while you ate things that people wouldn’t have recognized as food 100 years ago.
I snatched away the seconds of your life, then the minutes, the days and the years.
I filled your brain with the desire for things you didn’t need.
I kidnapped you from your family.
I showed you murder, rape, misery and all the horrors you could take – and you came back again and again for more.
I took it all from you and you never once complained.
I don’t know if you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you can’t. I can’t stop myself, and I don’t want to stop. I steal from almost everyone you know. Now I even creep into your children’s lives, dangling toys in front of them and singing happy songs while I lure them away from their parents.
Maybe you read this, or maybe you were sitting – even now – in the room with me, mouth agape, eyes reddened, body and mind softened by the years of abuse I have heaped upon you. It doesn’t matter. I’ll still steal from you, until you stand up for yourself – and you probably never will.