Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer best known for the Millennium Trilogy, published posthumously. Because they have been recently made into films (see original series with subtitles,) we know these books by their individual titles -- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (its marketing campaign in social was a good example of extending the shelf life of attention), The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
After Larsson's passing in 2004, his partner Eva Grabrielsson discovered a letter with a note “to be opened after my death.” It was written in early 1977, when the writer was only 22. Gabrielsson published the letter in her memoir, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me, along with answers to Larsson's readers about his political views and why he wrote, how he wrote, and who were his sources for Lisbeth and his other characters.
The 1977 letter stands out as a reminder that everything eventually comes to an end -- good and bad experiences do fade, like this calendar year, unless we are active in keeping them alive. We play a leading role in shaping our life stories one choice at a time, as well as what we choose to remember.
Larsson opens the letter with “everything comes to an end,” but when we put things into perspective, we find a new kind of self-awareness -- maybe a gentler one.
Eva, my love,
It's over. One way or another, everything comes to an end. It's all over some day. That's perhaps one of the most fascinating truths we know about the entire universe. The stars die, the galaxies die, the planets die. And people die too. I've never been a believer, but the day I became interested in astronomy, I think I put aside all that was left of my fear of death. I'd realized that in comparison to the universe, a human being, a single human being, me...is infinitely small. Well, I'm not writing this letter to deliver a profound religious or philosophical lecture. I'm writing it to tell you "farewell." I was just talking to you on the phone. I can still hear the sound of your voice. I imagine you, before my eyes...a beautiful image, a lovely memory I will keep until the end. At this very moment, reading this letter, you know that I am dead.
There are things I want you to know. As I leave for Africa, I'm aware of what's waiting for me. I even have the feeling that this trip could bring about my death, but it's something that I have to experience, in spite of everything. I wasn't born to sit in an armchair. I'm not like that. Correction: I wasn't like that...I'm not going to Africa just as a journalist, I'm going above all on a political mission, and that's why I think this trip might lead to my death.
This is the first time I've written to you knowing exactly what to say: I love you, I love you, love you, love you. I want you to know that. I want you to know that I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. I want you to know I mean that seriously. I want you to remember me but not grieve for me. If I truly mean something to you, and I know that I do, you will probably suffer when you learn I am dead. But if I really mean something to you, don't suffer, I don't want that. Don't forget me, but go on living. Live your life. Pain will fade with time, even if that's hard to imagine right now. Live in peace, my dearest love; live, love, hate, and keep fighting...
I had a lot of faults, I know, but some good qualities as well, I hope. But you, Eva, you inspired such love in me that I was never able to express it to you...
Straighten up, square your shoulders, hold your head high. Okay? Take care of yourself, Eva. Go have a cup of coffee. It's over. Thank you for the beautiful times we had. You made me very happy. Adieu.
I kiss you goodbye, Eva.
From Stieg, with love
Maybe this has been a good year, maybe it's been a difficult one. We all deal with our fair share of unexpected things happening in our lives. What we focus on ends up being what we see and feel.
[image via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain]