I cherish my stack of letters and re-read them about every ten years. My nieces and children wrote me delightful notes from camp. My husband sent me a few love letters so you can bet I kept those, too. I have letters from my mother and in-laws; my husband and I eventually acquired the letters we had written them as well. I particularly relish a smart-alecky one my husband sent his parents while in college. He addressed the envelope “Occupants.”
What I don’t have are letters from a former friend. Dear to my heart for 25 years, she bridled at one of my e-mail responses. I can’t claim complete innocence. I did respond too hurriedly to a comment that hurt my feelings. Always valuing our closeness, I didn’t intend any offense and apologized profusely once I realized her position. I was crushed when the apology didn’t take. So when I re-read my other letters recently, hers went into a clean, white trash bag. Keeping them was a painful reminder of things gone awry. But then, reconsidering, I retrieved the bag and sent the letters on. I hoped she received them in the spirit I intended; her friendship was so special that I wanted her to have them as a chronicle of her life while we knew each other. After all, they spanned nearly two decades of new journeys, new jobs, and the miracle of bringing babies into the world.
Perhaps I’d still have a friend if I’d taken pen in hand. Writing in longhand takes so much more deliberation . . . unless you’re formulating an e-mail to an agent, that is.