“Run Home,” by Margo Steines, in your August 2023 issue is some of the best writing I have seen. Moving back and forth between the personal and the universal, the national and the international, its structure embodies the rhythm of running. Tears rolled down my face as I read the last sentence. Not only did it feel like the perfect ending, resolving all that had come before, but it managed to combine wisdom, mystery, and pathos in a seemingly effortless way. Writing like this is why I keep reading The Sun.
Every time I stumble across something that Margo Steines has written, I am compelled to read and reread it. Her words are thought-provoking, raw, and honest, and they stay with me long after I finish the piece. I have a feeling that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of her talent. I cannot wait to watch the rest come to light.
Molia Dumbleton’s short story “The Normal Force” [August 2023] is heartwarming. I laughed at the humor and squirmed at the pain the narrator described.
Like the narrator, I used to wait in the car while my daughter took lessons. I would sit in a parking lot that wasn’t large enough to serve the post office, hardware store, and music academy that were clustered around it. Once, I watched a driver bump three different vehicles as they maneuvered their car out of the lot. They didn’t seem ruffled by it. My daughter is now a college counselor who takes care of students with disabilities — a similar calling to Dumbleton’s narrator.
In her Contributor note Dumbleton mentions that she “dreams about having some land of her own, where she can lie on her back and look up.” I hope she can find that. Homes don’t come with much property anymore. My wife, Sylvia, and I have only eleven feet from our house to our back fence, so we created a flagstone path lined with plants and shrubs. It gives the illusion of space. Every morning — except Sundays, when I think people deserve a little quiet — I play “Bird Song” by the Grateful Dead and watch the birds come for the seed I put out. There is nothing better.
I enjoyed Mishele Maron’s essay about her experiences with psychics and intuitive healers [“The Psychic Is In,” August 2023] but was angered by her childhood experience with a psychic after she was molested. The psychic said that Maron’s past-life involvement in the black arts had drawn her attacker to her. This is horribly retraumatizing.
I am a retired psychotherapist who practiced for more than twenty-five years. I specialized in severe trauma and dissociative disorders, as well as addiction and recovery. After closing my practice, I started working as a psychic medium. Psychic readers, healers, and therapists must understand that we are in a position of power; our words carry so much weight. I was heartened to read that Maron has moved on and found healing.
John Paul Scotto’s writing is sensitive, poignant, and insightful. His essay “Coach’s Kid” [August 2023] left me with a lump in my throat. I very much look forward to reading his memoir when it comes out.
I’m a retired school psychologist who worked in an early-intervention program diagnosing three-to-five-year-olds who were on the autism spectrum — a diagnosis that brought support services to the children and their families. It was a wonderful job in many ways, delivering understanding, acceptance, and assistance. A downside of my work was that I almost never saw what happened once these children grew older.
John Paul Scotto’s honest reflections are surely helpful to adults who have always felt different in some way but have not had guidance in dealing with their feelings. I imagine his writing is also equally helpful to children and their families who are wondering about or already in that process of finding support. Honesty and vulnerability can be very positive things.
John Paul Scotto’s essay is beautifully written and moving. Our culture is not nurturing to people who are not considered “normal” (as if there were such a thing).
As a girl raised in poverty in Oakland, California, I was taught by my family and authorities that I had no rights and was not smart. I was given an IQ test in high school, but I was never tested for autism. I suspect I’m on the spectrum.
It took decades for me to find my strength. (I took an assertiveness course when I was forty.) I did, however, eventually get past the fury I felt inside. Now, at eighty-six years old, I know I am smart, strong, and capable. I am publishing poetry, and I continue to build confidence. I’ve finally dropped my self-criticism and am wholeheartedly in love with my life.
I have enjoyed reading John Paul Scotto’s essays in The Sun and on Longreads. My seven-year-old son was diagnosed two years ago with high-functioning autism and anxiety, and some of Scotto’s experiences remind me of him. I’m grateful for the insider’s view into what my son may be feeling or thinking but doesn’t have the words for yet.
I appreciate John Paul Scotto’s honesty and humor in “Coach’s Kid,” and I relate to his desire for his father’s acceptance. It’s quite a dance to navigate childhood and then eventually arrive at a friendship-type relationship with our fathers. I am hopeful that Scotto’s diagnosis has given him permission to forgive behavior that he and his folks didn’t understand, and I’m so grateful that, rather than drowning, he fell off of that pool filter onto the grass and, eventually, into readers’ lives.
I identify completely with “Chicken. Film. Youth.” [August 2023], the online excerpt you published from Cleo Qian’s short-story collection Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go. Youth is fleeting. The difficulty of life is that you can’t know what you could have done better until you get old enough to look back on what you’ve done.
You can read “Chicken. Film. Youth,” as well as other online-only articles, on our website: thesunmagazine.org/news.
The Readers Write on “Pain” by Micael Speirs [June 2023] — describing how she felt after terminating a pregnancy because of a nonsurvivable fetal condition — resonated with me. I found her statement “I failed as a mother because I killed my baby” especially impactful. I recently experienced a similar situation: My wife of many years was dying of metastatic cancer. She accepted death and chose medical aid in dying so she could pass peacefully at home. I honored her decision and supported her as she ingested a lethal dose of medication, but I was unprepared for the guilt I experienced. As I watched her life slip away, I felt like I had killed my wife, even though I knew it was the cancer’s fault.
It has been more than a year, and through therapy I have gotten better, but the memories still trouble me. Medical aid in dying is legal in eleven jurisdictions (ten states and Washington, D.C.), and it helps many terminally ill people choose how, when, and where they will die. It is also an evolving medical service, and it could be more compassionate for surviving family members. More information and counseling are needed for loved ones, to provide support before and immediately after the procedure and during the many months of grieving that follow.
I admire Speirs’s courage for sharing her experience and signing her name. I haven’t the courage yet to sign mine.