A Letter to Bruce Oliver

Photo courtesy of the California Historical Society

Hey Bruce,

It’s been 35 years, 35 long years since you passed away. I shouldn’t say you passed away. You were taken away. You see, the memories that you have left never died. They continue on. There are so many of them that it’s hard to just choose one. But this memory is the one I still live by and the one I pass on to my children. I’m smiling as I think about it. I still hear your voice from that day you found me crying on the stoop and I looked up. You said, “Hey, Spunky. What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” I saw the smile on your face as you sat down next to me. I don’t remember the reason why I was crying, but I remember what you told me. You told me to never let anyone take my smile away. I looked at you while you said that, and you said, “for if they do, they take your joy away, and never let anyone do that.” Looking at the smile on your face when you said that, I wiped the tears away. After that, I remember us going in the house and having a piece of Big Mama’s lemon cake. Then, you went away.

What happened to you left a big hole in my heart, but I never let go of the memories that we shared. Especially what you told me that day. To this day, I pass this on to my son and daughter when they have bad days and feel like giving up. I do this to encourage them and to keep your memory alive. You know what? When I think of you, I have a slice of lemon cake. I hope that you’re in heaven, happy and smiling. Give my love to your parents, bro, and everyone else.

Love, Kimberly

(Kimberly White lives in Washington, D.C.)