A Letter to an Imaginary Friend, Oscar Pistorius.

Credit: starrfmonline.com

Credit: starrfmonline.com

Dear Oscar,

I imagine you’d be surprised by this – after all, one doesn’t usually write to imaginary friends…and then expect them to read such a letter. Imaginary friends, by definition, are supposed to be fictitious and only exist in the realm of the subconscious. You, however, aren’t anything like that. I think most people of the planet are aware of your existence by now. Be that as it may, I take the liberty of writing, expecting the letter to find you…even if the chances of your reading it are rather slim.

Why should you, even if you could? I caught myself thinking a few moments ago: most of your mail will be censored (if ever delivered) and the majority of those letters that make it to your cell, will (quite naturally) be hate mail. If I were in your shoes (please, no pun intended), I’d ignore any letter from anybody I didn’t know – so I’d understand if this letter gets chucked into the ‘I-simply-can’t-face-another-bit-of-scripted-abuse’ bin.

I wanted to tell you that you’ve been a wonderful imaginary friend for a long time. I followed your running career with some interest, often gaining strength from the way you refused to give up when the going got tough. Man, you were good! And then the olympics and the paralympics – you made me so proud.

So we never met – why should we? – but I thought of you as a role model and an icon and all those words one uses towards somebody you respect. My friend – imaginary, to be sure, virtual by the very nature of things – but indeed somebody I’d have liked to share a drink with.

And then Valentine’s Day happened and everybody screamed for revenge. Icarus had flown too near the sun, the wax had melted, the wings were destroyed. The world – so righteous and filled with sinless people who never did any wrong – bayed for blood. Driven by their lily-white personalities and oh-so-forgetful consciences, everybody watched in horrid fascination as you were paraded on television to millions across the globe. They saw your tears and remorse, and rejected it as playacting for the judge’s benefit. They heard your faltering voice stumbling down the straight of the advocate’s scathing questions while every tabloid dug and dug into the imperfections of your past.

My imaginary friend, it turned out, had feet of clay. Like me, he was riddled with fault lines that had eroded his dreams. Oh, he was still famous – but for all the wrong reasons.

And of course, there were the families. Your own stood by your side when the storm refused to abate. And Reeva’s kin followed you with sad eyes and thoughts of justice. Your world-wide family of supporters simply faded into the background. Like St Peter, they said they’ve never heard of you, ever before. No, they didn’t know you, never rejoiced in your successes.. Only this time, the cock’s crow was replaced by the judge’s hammer banging down after the sentence. Once was enough. Case closed.

But the case will never be closed, will it? Whether you spend ten months or a lifetime in custody, you can never undo the things you have done. Your prison has mental walls, the bars being the past and the bricks made during the sleepless nights  when the 14th of February will screen inside your head, over and over again.

You’ve incarcerated a lot of people in their own prisons too, I’m afraid. The Steenkamps will never recover, neither will the Pistoriusses. Whenever they think about you – which will be all too often – they’ll retreat to their own cells of misery and regret. Sadly, too, so will so many other erstwhile fans.

I’m writing this for me, if you can understand that? My imaginary, virtual friend is in prison and I have to grow up. My idol has fallen. I must greet you, say goodbye, and try to forget how I cheered you on so many podiums. Still, I do so with a sense of profound regret, and I want you to know about that. Walking away from a prodigious superstar, who inspired a nation into believing that there is, indeed, something good in our country, isn’t easy. However, it must be done, even if it is only for my own sake.

Despite having said that, I do wish you well. The burden you will carry for the rest of your life, must be born with dignity – and that will be hard. People will remark, point fingers, write less-than-complimentary words. And every night, when the sounds of the prison reverberate around you and the keys in the locks make their crunching sounds, you will remember things you’d rather forget. What I’m trying to say is this: may you find peace. I don’t think it’ll be easy.

My dear imaginary friend – the one I’ve never met and hardly expect to, either – this letter serves to tell you that I’m not prepared to cast the first – or any subsequent – stones. Bear your burden, serve your time. Make peace with the past and try to find the strength to forgive – yourself and others. And believe that not everybody thinks that time in prison will heal the wounds. The scars, my friend, are permanent. Because I understand that, I’m writing to tell you that – as a previously faceless, anonymous fan – I hope you’ll find new friends in a new life. Try to find a  way to climb the steep mountain of recovery, even when your legs refuse to move another inch.

As for me, I somehow accept that it’s normal for imaginary friends to have superpowers, even after I’ve said goodbye..

I think you’re going to need that.

Kind Regards,

Gertruida.

22 thoughts on “A Letter to an Imaginary Friend, Oscar Pistorius.

  1. menomama3

    You and Gertuida are exceptionally gracious folks. And very wise, too. Thank you for this welcome respite from the vitriol.

    Reply
  2. Herman of bibledifferences.net

    Dear Amos,
    Thank you for this compassionate letter. It reflects what I and my wife feel. I think that to any small way stand in another’s shoes, one should know and acknowledge one’s own mistakes and human errors and be aware of own non achievements. Let us pray for the healing of this icon of perseverance. Let us keep on praying for Jesus’ healing that can let Oscar stand up even greater than he had been before. And may the healing only God can bring, heal both the Steenkamp and the Pistorius families. Forgiving is the strongest tool Jesus taught us!
    Herman and Leah Grobler.

    Reply
    1. Amos van der Merwe Post author

      Herman…thank you! In this broken world we are all at fault. May forgiveness be the hallmark of this case – especially when Oscar finds the strength to acknowledge, accept…and forgive himself. While one can in no way condone his past, I know he’ll have to climb several mountains in his future. Let us remember him in prayer.

      Reply
      1. Herman of bibledifferences.net

        Thank you Amos.
        My wife and I have been praying for him and everybody involved ever since that dreadful day. We will keep on praying and rejoice in his recovery, climbing those mountains with make shift legs. Do we ever notice where we ourselves have feet of clay?

  3. Marjolyn Rombouts

    Die brief het nou vir my ook gehelp om los te kom van die geweldige las wat ek vir hom gevoel het. Hy het my klein wereld om gekrap, ek was kwaad en geskok. Teleurgestelt. Dis gedaan en die lewe gaan aan. Ek hoop diep in my hart hy sal vreede en rus kry soos die jare verby gaan. Dankie Amos, vir die mooi lees!!!

    Reply
  4. Dewald

    I once idolized a great sportsman. When he came to a fall I felt as though a family member had died. I then decided never to do that again as I realized we are all (and I mean all) flawed humans.

    Reply
  5. Laura

    Please don’t abandon him. If he were a real friend, would you do that? Walk away? I would hope not.

    You say his supporters all left too, denied him. That’s not entirely true, and I think you know that. Some stayed, have done their utmost best to show him, his family and the world that they believe him, believe in him. A WordPress blog was started, Support for Oscar Pistorius, to allow supporters to post messages there: it’s initial purpose to show the world he wasn’t alone and to let other supporters know that they too were not alone, that there were others who believed as they did. Before long his family knew of the blog and have taken comfort from it.

    Your words are kind, and kindly meant, and it’s lovely to read them; it makes such a change from abusive, judgmental words. But don’t let this friend go – gather him to you, hug him, let him know you care. As you would a real life friend.❤

    Reply
    1. Amos van der Merwe Post author

      What a wonderful comment! Thank you. I agree with you 100%. Previously I blogged about the scathing public response, https://rolbos.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/the-judging-of-oscar-pistorius/
      and other sportsmen:
      https://rolbos.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/lance-armstrong-unjust-fairness/
      https://rolbos.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/joost-and-the-slushmobile/

      The message of these posts is that we are soooo judgemental and quick to condemn. But, as always, there will be fingers pointing back at us, forcing (hopefully) us to take a good, hard look at our own lives.

      Will I discard Oscar? No, not at all. His fallibility and mistakes are no worse than my own. That’s why I can identify with his lot, and that’s why the prevailing emotion is one of sadness, not of rejection. And yes, I do wish him well. Him and his family as well as all the many people who remember Valentines with grief and regret. And I? I must look in the mirror and realise how easy it is to stray and how wrong it is to be so judgemental.

      Reply
  6. janie.aus @gmail.com

    Its usually the one’s with longer lists of sin and wrongdoings…who scream the loudest…like the ones who screamed : ” Cruicify Him…The One,…… who is going to be there for their salvation….one day!!!!!… You say you right this for yourself…..it should be for Oscar if you mean well…..Selfishness is the bigest sin and you did cast a stone!….. He,the Steenkamp’s and the Pretorius families will recover and heal……especially when they read their Bible…because time heal wounds and life goes on and people forgive and forget! ” Bear your burden …surve your time…you lost your friends…..NOT TRUE…..TRUE FRIENDS are not judgemental……and ….WILL BE THERE FOR EVER…and OSCAR with his perseverance ,religion and belief will get up and be even BE BETTER!!!!!!

    Reply

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