Joel: I am so sorry to hear about your son. My wife, Jane, died of a glioblastoma 20 years ago. I think about her every day. Things do get better, honestly. Soon you will remember the good times, the healthy times, not just the hard times. How old are your granddaughters? After Jane died, Gene Wilder and I started Gilda's Club for Gilda Radner. Try their Web site, at least you can find someone who has gone through what you are going through and can share.
K. Bouryal, of New Jersey, writes: The wife of a close firefighter friend we lost on 9/11 learned she was pregnant just days after she buried her husband. For that now-single mom, it is important that her child maintains relationships with the men who knew her late husband best. She says, "those men are the ones that will help my child learn who daddy was, and help his legacy to live on." If — God forbid — your life were cut short who would help Dylan carry on your legacy? And what legacy would that be?
Joel: That is why I wrote the book, so Dylan would know me.
Holly Williams, of Annapolis, Md., writes: Joel, What can friends say or do that helps, especially upon first hearing your news? What is the wrong thing to say or do? Good luck, my TV friend of many years!
Joel: Just say good luck and, most important, call me your friend.
Debbie Fuehrer, of Rochester, Minn., writes: How do you explain to your son about life being so unfair? (I'm praying for you and your family … if that means anything to you, but it's something I can do for you, as a stranger, from afar.)
Joel: Honestly, I don't think life is unfair. I can't. So many good things, amazing things, wonderful things have happened to me. I write Dylan in the introduction that my life has been so extraordinary I realized in my room at NY Hospital that if I had to give it up, I was able to. (I wrote that my room looked out at the East River. My grandmother, an immigrant from Rumania, would walk across the Williamsburg Bridge and cross that river six days a week to work in a sweatshop and I, her grandson, has been invited to the White House, met three Presidents, and didn't vote for any of them.) And, in realizing it was OK to die, found the strength to live. I feel sometimes like a walking greeting card and real life, certainly, is deeper and more complicated than a glib sentence or two, but, basically, that is true.
Retta, of Vancouver, Wash., writes: Beat that cancer Joel, my mom just made it through, I know you can too! I've been watching you on Good Morning America since I was a little girl. Even when I lived in Montana and only got one TV station we still were able to hear your movie reviews and comments. I have a 5 year old son myself, and I pray for you. I can't imagine what you are going through but know you have a lot of prayers being said for you. God Bless You and Dylan!
Joel: If you have a 5-year-old you know, too, that every day is a miracle. And out West, where you live, that's especially true (I grew up in L.A., my dad loved camping, we spent a great week on Flathead Lake in Montana when I was about 10 or 11. And my feeling is of course I'd love to take Dylan to Flathead Lake when he's 10 or 11, camp out and fish for salmon trout. But if I can't I will have told him about it and one day he may get there on his own and, if he does, he'll think of me.