At the beginning of Stranger Things 3, Hopper (David Harbour) tries to have a heart-to-heart with his daughter, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), and her new boyfriend, Mike (Finn Wolfhard). You see, the two are growing up and growing closer together, and that's scary for Hopper. He doesn't know how to deal with it in a rational dad way, so he turns to Joyce (Winona Ryder) for help. She's the one who suggests the heart-to-heart, and Hopper decides to put his feelings down on paper and writes a note to El.
However, he never has that heart-to-heart with her. He never even gives her the note. Unfortunately, life and the Upside Down get in the way and everyone is pulled into a crazy adventure involving secret codes and Soviet scientists. In the end, Hopper sacrifices himself to stop the Soviets, apparently disintegrating as the machine they're using to open another gate to the Upside Down blows up. Yes, it's devastatingly tragic for us and Eleven.
Three months later, while cleaning out his things in preparation for a movie, Joyce comes across the note and realizes that Hopper never had "the talk" with Eleven, nor does she know what he was even trying to tell her. Joyce gives the note to her, and fighting back tears, Eleven reads it.
If you'd like to cry yourself right now, here's Hopper's note in full that describes life, loss, grieving, and keeping the door open three inches at all times:
There's something I've been wanting to talk to you both about. I know this is a difficult conversation, but I care about you both very much. And I know that you care about each other very much, and that's why it's important that we set these boundaries moving forward so we can build an environment where we all feel comfortable, trusted, and open to sharing our feelings.
Jesus. The truth is, for so long I'd forgotten what those even were. I've been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say. A deep, dark cave. And then I left some Eggos out in the woods and you came into my life. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy. But lately, I guess I've been feeling distant from you. Like you're pulling away from me or something. I miss playing board games every night, making triple decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching Westerns together before we doze off.
But I know you're getting older, growing, changing. I guess, if I'm being really honest, that's what scares me. I don't want things to change. So I think maybe that's why I came in here, to try and make stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were. But I know that's naive. It's just not how life works. It's moving, always moving, whether you like it or not. And yeah, sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's sad. And sometimes, it's surprising. Happy.
So you know what? Keep on growing up kid. Don't let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from 'em. When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you're out of that cave. But, please, if you don't mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.
Are these the last pearls of wisdom Hopper will bestow on Eleven and the rest of the kids? It's unclear if he's really dead, so who knows what his fate will be come Season 4. Either way, at least Eleven (and all of us) have this note to hold onto in the meantime.
Stranger Things Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.