A Story of Missing LettersSunday, December 29, 2013
I suppose you could say that we have this connection. Something invisible—strings, stretched across great distances, over mountains and streams, through trees and bramble. J and I stumbled across each other on the internet, years ago. Both metalsmiths, we admired each other’s work from afar. I think what broke the ice were pictures of her dogs—German Shorthaired Pointers—the same kind I grew up with. We both gradually started reaching out via email—little fragments of touch. Little bits of information, sharing, and kindness. That gradually turned into letters of the more tangible sort, written in sprawling cursive (from her), or scribbly print (from me). Over the years we have maintained two almost separate conversations—one via email, and one via snail mail. In addition, there have been splendid little gifts, packages, and love sent between us. We have yet to meet, yet to even hold a phone conversation (we both laugh that we are completely dorky and shy), but our love and admiration of each other continues.
So how is it, that something could possibly intercept this correspondence? This past summer was a doozy for me, and although I did my best to let all parties know of our move in July, somehow I didn’t let J know. Or it got missed, caught in the wind. As weeks and months passed, I hadn’t received one little letter from her, and began to wonder. I’d sent emails, which was as much as my schedule would allow. But part of me started wondering if somehow our friendship was waning—it was so unlike her to not send a postcard or letter of some sort.
And then, a week ago, I got a text asking if I had received the package she sent.
I had not.
Heartbroken, we both thought it must have been stolen—the delivery confirmation said it was delivered a full week prior! Over email she sent the delivery information and as I read it, I realized something: the package had been delivered to zip code 97206. My old address!! There was hope!
Dave and I adventured over to our old apartment, me ready with a blank card to write on should no one be home.
No one was home.
I left a note for the tenants and hoped against hope that they were good people and would contact me to return my mail. In a few days’ time, one of the new tenants did. I set up a time, and collected my mail—letters from months past, and a wonderful package full of sweet treasures—each one touching my heart. I couldn’t wait to open the letters—Dave chatting along in the car as we drove, with me absorbed in words and events that I had missed. I felt so grateful and yet so sorrowful that I had missed these things—her husband being away for far too long on a job, her dog getting sick and almost dying, all those questions and inquiries and adventures…
And then, when I got home, I opened the package. There were layers of love—layers of tea, little packages filled with treasures, a beautiful painting which now sits on my bench as a friendly reminder, a beautiful mug, an antler, and little letters, again. It was so beautiful, so touching, that I actually called her and left a message—only the second time in two years.
I am now working on writing back to all of those letters. She will get a book of a letter, and many little treasures that I have been collecting for her as well. I joked, during our litany of text messages, that this would make a wonderful romantic comedy if we were a man and woman. Instead it is simply a sweet story of missed connections between two people who maintain a friendship through distance, trials, and triumphs.