The weather was unpleasant on this day so I spent a lot of time inside. Evening came sooner than I expected and I hadn’t made a photo for my 365Project. So I thought this would be a good time to dabble a little more in something conceptual.
I pulled out one of my boxes tucked away on the top shelf of my closet and came across several bundles of letters neatly tied with ribbons. As I picked up one of the bundles, a scene from my past unfolded as if it were yesterday. About 15 years ago, my mother handed me this package of letters and said, “These are all the letters you wrote to me when you were in Germany. You wrote about everything in such detail. It’s like a diary. You should have these.”
When I was sixteen years old, my parents sent me to a fabulous school in the Bavarian Alps of Germany. My mom wanted me to experience education, art, and the culture of Europe. It was an incredibly glorious experience, and I wrote her all the details of my adventures, mishaps, heartbreak, and in return, got back words of wisdom. Those letters were how we stayed connected in every sense of the word.
It’s funny how you can be looking for something, not really knowing what, and end up with a quietly profound experience. I laid out her bundles of letters and took the photo. Before I put everything away, I opened one of the many letters my mother had written to me. I was immediately filled with warmth and love. Since her death three years ago, I notice the many little things that I miss. Her sharing with me the tales of adventure, guidance, and wisdom. Mostly I missed the laughter we shared. But for the moment that I held the piece of paper, that she had once held, and I read her words, written by her hand, I could hear, see and feel her.
So much of what we do today disappears into the black hole of cyberspace. While I love playing in the world of technology, I also still appreciate the tangible. I believe that everything we hold is infused with a little bit of our essence, and we can tap into this essence anytime we touch or hold an object that was dear to someone we loved. This is why I still write in a journal, hand-write notes and cards, and inscribe any book or photo that I gift.
I would hope that we’re able to pass this kind of appreciation on to the next generation. Things we don’t value at sixteen suddenly become more meaningful when we’re fifty. And what if we’ve thrown them all away? So, maybe the next time you’re tempted to text or email your daughter, husband, anyone who matters to you, resist the urge, and instead write a quick note. Support the U.S Postal Service by buying a stamp (yes, it’s still one of the best bargains in the world!) and mail the note. You won’t be disappointed and may even be surprised at how meaningful it will be for the recipient.
I know that whenever I feel the need to hear my mom, I can pick one of the letters that she wrote me, and her advice to me in the letter is as relevant to my life now as it was when I was sixteen. They’re a reminder that we shared an incredible life and that she is still at my side.