An Open Letter to David Tennant


Dear Mr. Tennant,

This weekend, I am attending Wizard World Comic Con in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I will be meeting you. I already have my ticket to get your autograph, though me being the worst-case scenario type that I am, I’m a little nervous that something will go wrong. But I’m not going to give that possibility any more power than I have to. This weekend, I’m going to Wizard World, and I’m going to meet you.

I’ll be nervous.  Hopefully I won’t do something completely embarrassing, like ask you to have my babies, because that would just be weird. I hope there’s time for me to at least say hello and tell you thank you for being such a big part of “Doctor Who,” for being part of a show that has been such a big part of my life.

But I know I won’t get a chance to tell you why. Even if I had time—which I won’t, since there will be hundreds of other people waiting to get your autograph, I’m sure—I don’t think I could manage to untie my tongue long enough to get through the words. So, on the off chance that you peruse blogs of soon-to-be-published American urban fantasy writers in your spare time, I’m writing you an open letter.

I started watching “Doctor Who” in November of 2013. It was the month that the 50th anniversary episode aired, so everyone was talking about it, and my cable company had all the episodes of the rebooted series airing through their video-on-demand system. It was also the month my mother died.

My mom and I were close. My father died when I was 13, leaving just my mom, my younger brother, and me. We had a rough time when I was a teenager, but as I became an adult we grew closer. My brother and I never quite saw eye to eye on things, so my mother was the one I talked to and relied upon. She was my best friend and closest confidant. Her death was sudden. I was 30, and she had just passed her 65th birthday—not young, but my grandmother (her mother) lived to be 90, so I was expecting many more years with her. Then again, she had heart problems caused by a bout of rheumatic fever when she was a child, and I’d been asking her for years to quit smoking, so maybe it shouldn’t have been so unexpected. But these things always seem clearer in retrospect, I think.

My mom, my brother, and me, a few weeks before her death.

My mom, my brother, and me, a few weeks before her death.

I don’t know if you know what it feels like to wake up every morning with a piece of yourself missing, a big gaping hole where you expect there to be something. But that’s what it was like. I had trouble sleeping. I vacillated between binge-eating and nausea that left me nearly unable to eat at all. I became prone to episodes of extreme anxiety and panic, especially at night. My health suffered.

But, without the luxury of being independently wealthy, I had to go on. I had to go to work. I had to pay my bills. I had to deal with my mom’s estate business. I had to feed the cat. I told everyone I was okay, not because I really was, but because I had to be. I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

I had been binge-watching “Homeland” prior to my mom’s death, but afterwards I found I just couldn’t stomach another seen of Damien Lewis going through violent withdrawals or Claire Danes going crazy (again). So I started watching “Doctor Who.” I was immediately captivated by the Time Lord in the funny blue box and all of his intrepid companions.

As a kid, I used to imagine myself as characters in my favorite television shows. At 30, I found myself doing it again. I wanted to be the Doctor’s companion, to travel all of time and space with a two-hearted alien. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be silly enough to fall in love with the nearly-immortal alien; that kind of thing never ends well. But at least I’d have a friend who was there for me, a friend who could take me on adventures, a friend who could whisk me away from the endless bleakness of my life and allow me to forget the real world for a while.

But in retrospect, I wonder if it was the Doctor I actually identified with more: the last of the Time Lords, surrounded by people but always truly alone, making friends he always had to say good-bye to. It really got me in “School Reunion,” when the Doctor told Rose how he had to watch his companions—all the people he loved best in the world—wither and die. I may not be a near-immortal Time Lord…but I got it.

Watching “Doctor Who,” escaping to that place where I didn’t have to face my troubles for half an hour, kept me afloat when I was drowning. It kept me company when I was alone. And even though things are better now, the show is still special to me: I was all by myself, telling the world I was fine. But, silly as it may seem, the Doctor got to be there for me during one of the most difficult times of my life.

So what I’m really trying to say here is: thank you. Thank you for being there with me, if only through a television screen, during the hardest months of my life. Thank you for being part of a show that has meant so much to so many people. Thank you for coming to conventions and indulging blubbering fans like me. Thank you for being my favorite Doctor—because you really are, you know.

Thank you for everything.


Beth Woodward

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