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Once a car stops and the rich old mill owner’s lazy wife leans out and whines: ‘Giveya two-bits cash for that ol tree.’ Ordinarily my friend is afraid of saying no; but on this occasion she promptly shakes her head. ‘We wouldn’t take a dollar.’ The mill owner’s wife persists. ‘A dollar, my foot! Fifty cents. That’s my last offer. Goodness, woman, you can get another one.’ In answer, my friend gently reflects: ‘I doubt it. There’s never two of anything.’

— Truman Capote, “A Christmas Memory

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“That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.” 

― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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On November 9th of 2004, Stieg Larsson — journalist and author of the posthumously published Millennium series of novels, the first of which was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was 50-years-old. The next month, Stieg’s long-term partner, Eva Gabrielsson, found the following letter amongst his belongings, marked “To be opened only after my death,” and written prior to a trip to Africa in 1977 when he was just 22.

 

Eva read extracts of the letter at Stieg’s funeral, the day after its discovery.

 

 

 

Stockholm, February 9, 1977 

 

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.

 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

 

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….and maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. What a dirty lie.

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