Dear Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman-
My deepest condolences for the loss of your son. I trust that he will be remembered fondly.
I did not know Gabe. From what I gather, he was a tireless public servant who worked hard to make others’ lives easier and better. I imagine you are very proud that he worked for a Congresswoman and though a small piece of you wished he’d get a higher paying job in the private sector, I bet you’re grateful that he made a living doing what he loved.
Gabe strikes me as a connector, a teacher and a helper. He planned events. I bet he dreamed of one day standing on his own podium, ready to help, ready to serve and ready to use his skills to better everyone around him.
I feel in some way responsible for the environment that lead to his death. You see, I’m privately a hard worker who likes to help people solve problems by connecting them to others. I plan events. I write. I help others get stuff done.
But publicly…publicly I interrogate. I push buttons, I incite anger and I use my talents to piss people off in hopes that they’ll get better on their own. While I’m no hate monger, I am contributing to a senseless cold war against what makes us human. My ray of light is dim at best, often overrun by angry comments, criticism toward others and a general negativity about the world that does little good.
I’m tired of being a participant in a nation where we have become so desensitized to insults, racial slurs and violence metaphors that they pass for entertainment on the nightly newscast. I’m sorry I didn’t speak up earlier, but I will now. This stuff bothers me.
Your son was 30 years old and in the prime of his life. He was using his talent and gifts to make the world a slightly better place. I’m 31 years old and I use my talent and gifts to publicly break people down and privately build them back up. I need to and can do more.
While your son’s life has ended before his time, I promise you that it was not lived in vain. I, and the people around me, can do better. I pledge to make my light burn a little brighter.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman, for raising a kid as selfless as Gabe. I hope I can live up to the legacy he never got a chance to finish.