Dear Mr. Hoffman

Photo via
Photo via

I’m sorry you’re dead. I’m going to miss you, you, one of the few actors who really got self-destruction. You always made me believe in the bad in the good and the good in the bad. You always creeped me out.

Mr. Hoffman, if you’re up there in ODer’s heaven, keep an eye out for my dad. He’s funny and you’ll like him. He’s a youngish-looking fifty-something with white hair and a jaunty fedora. He died seeking that alternate plane of existence that I know you knew so well. He chose the tantalizing promises of a sly lover—alcohol—over the greedy gropings of his little daughter. He died alone, like you.

Mr. Hoffman, I know your secret. Everyone else thinks that you died on your bathroom floor atop a scattered mess of needles and baggies, but I know the truth. No, you died in an elusive, exquisite, and delightful paradise. You died happy.

Mr. Hoffman, I feel like we know each other. May I call you Phil? Phil, this isn’t easy to ask. Phil, if you’re wandering around ODer’s heaven and you bump into a dark and curly-haired, middle-aged former beauty, Phil, will you please tell her that I love her? Phil, go ahead and give my sister a hug for me. Tell her that I get it, that I finally understand that infinite draw to the dark side. I finally understand how your soul responds to vice as much as virtue. I get that sometimes you can only find peace on the path to self-destruction. I realize how sin is a long-lost art supply.

Phil, I’m going to miss you, but perhaps one day I’ll join you on that alternate plane of existence. I hope that someday I learn to eviscerate and reinvent myself through my art the way that you did. Phil, I admire the way that you lived, and although it terrifies me, I have to commend you on your death as well. You never failed to surprise me. Maybe someday you’ll look for me up there, too.

22 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Hoffman

  1. That was beautiful and chilling. My vice is Coke-a- cola. I can’t break that habit, so I can’t even imagine trying to forego something that feels so good.

      1. i totally get that. whenever i write about my father, it feels better and by the time it’s an essay, i’m kind of detached from it and can just appreciate the words.

    1. He did resonate with me, but I certainly don’t feel like his life is public property. I hope I didn’t give the idea that I do feel that way.

      1. Not his life, but the public image, what we see and relate to on a personal level. Whatever works best for us. It’s similar to how I see a piece of art after it leaves the artist’s hands. The creator cannot control how we interpret it, and we see it through our own experience.

        This short piece is one of my favorite public remembrances about him:

  2. Holy shit; this was powerful. I saw the title and expected to read a post similar to many others I’ve seen around the web — posts that basically boiled down to “just say no” campaigns. I didn’t get that here at all, and strangely, it was a really lovely surprise. Yes, it was dark, but the beauty of it was in its honesty. Very admirable. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. I have tears in my eyes as I read this post. I am dreadfully sorry for your loss and extremely impressed by your tribute to the great actor. Yes, it is easy for us to judge and pass a condemning label on a person due to one incident or habit. Nobody is fully aware of the pain and agony the soul must have gone through.

  4. This is by far the best post on PSH that I’ve read, and I’ve read about a million. Thank you for this. It gripped my neck and wouldn’t let go.

  5. You have been surrounded by so much pain and addiction, I hope you have escaped it’s grip. Very moving post.

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