Letters to Norah


This week, my step-daughter Norah is away at camp. So, apparently, are her guinea pigs, Sylvester and Sebastian, who’ve been sending her letters. Hopefully, she’s having as much fun as they are:





Speaking of letters to Norah, here’s something I’ve been meaning to share — somewhere, with somebody — for nearly two years.

At the start of her third grade year, Norah was worried about needles: a year before, kids had been able to take a spray of flu mist up their noses, instead of rolling up their sleeves for the usual flu shots. But for 2016 the mist had been declared ineffective, and school systems were requiring the shots again.

Norah wasn’t having it. She went to her room and carefully wrote out a letter expressing her concerns. Then she sent it off to the Jefferson County Department of Health.

Needless to say, we did not expect a response. But a few days later, a letter addressed to Norah appeared in our mailbox.

Here are both letters in the exchange. If you have any doubts that there are beautiful souls left in our world, please read the thoughtful, inspiring response Norah received from a stranger, a doctor and public health official from Jefferson County, Alabama; be sure to read through to the last couple of paragraphs.

We really weren’t sure just where to tell Norah to send her letter, but clearly it wound up on the right person’s desk. I like to imagine the care with which Mark E. Wilson, MD, a busy man, sat in his office and composed these words. Watching Norah open and read the letter remains one of my favorite family memories to date.



Norah got the shot, without complaint.

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