We are experts at e-mail, text and blog.
We communicate like never before. There are countless ways to reach out and touch someone. But something is missing…the handwritten note.
On a recent trip overseas, I was glad to have my phone with me to connect with my loved ones. Communication was fast and furious while I trod my way across England. My partner was happy to hear that I was safe and sound at the end of each day. Several trips ago I had been so lost in the mountains that by the time I had called him from a phone booth days later he was quite panicked.
So this texting was an improvement, right?
Actually, my mobile phone stood in for a few postcards that I would have sent him in the past. It was convenient, but hardly romantic. It ended any suspense that we would have shared had he waited for the card I would have lovingly written whilst sitting in a pub, having a pint and spilling myself onto carefully chosen note paper.
I am very fortunate that I am surrounded by people who still send me a handwritten letter, now and again. There is nothing as thrilling as reaching into a post box and finding a few loving words from a child, a lover or a friend. Or finding one left on the table, or a pillow.
I relish it all, the paper they chose, the scent they sprayed onto it, the stamp, even the illegible scribbling!
I especially love the time they spent in giving thought to what they would pen.
The other day, as I poked through some drawers in an attempt at organization, I found a few letters and post cards send to me over the last couple of years. I was incredibly moved by what I found.
Letters that showed me I was thought of, missed, loved and worth the effort of a pencil well sharpened.
Here are a few;
Feliz Cumpleanos Mama! I hope you had a wonderful birthday filled with love, adventure and poetry. (written on a scrap of paper folded once with a drawing of a bird on a branch wearing a crown, sent from Mexico)
Bonjourno! We arrived at a tiny mountain village at night and Rafael greets us. Later I am greeted by a white horse who trots over to our door. Then we walk down a tunnel to an abandoned medieval village…really. I patted a toad friend and saw a nice bat and said ‘good evening’ to him, and felt that if the ground shook, I would be gone!’ (written in a card with a line drawing of a medieval Italian archway, sent from Italy)
Hey Mama! I am sitting in a nice coffee shop on the drive, and am excited to have some coffee with you soon. I love you because you are you and not just my mama. I do believe we chose to be in each others life and I’m glad we picked each other. I am so very proud of you. Your second Saturn return is being completed and you are coming into the age of the crone…I will always be here for you. (Written on a card that says ‘education is rad’, sent from Vancouver.)
Dear Monika and Steve. Never stop being the kind, crazy, honest, loving and empowering humans that you are—you touch so many in such lovely ways. (Written on card that depicts a mom and dad pig swinging their brood on a wooden swing, it was tucked into my desk drawer by a friend.)
My dear friend. I would like you to bring me back a shell, and good stories. Let the ocean put her arms around you and swirl away your cares. While you are sitting on the beach staring out to sea, think about how you are a strong woman with gentle hands and a kind heart. You are much loved my friend. (Written on a card showing a border detail of Cardinal Acciaiuoli’s missal from the Fitwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, tucked into my suitcase by a visiting friend.)
On two torn bits of paper, folded twice, with this title:
Monika, the only letter I have written on this trip—My dear friend, these are the reasons why I missed you so very much when you weren’t with me on this trip…a list of eleven reasons ensues, one of which is: “We would have been a force to reckon with walking arm in arm past cafes and carpet and spice sellers and they would have called out ‘where you from?’ and you would have yelled ‘can I ask you directions?” and we would have done much flirting and shoulder shoving and walking away with jaunty step. (Sent from Turkey.)
Mama, You are flying high over the ocean great and I feel your soul anxious to be touched by a finny horn, a fairy spell, a moment of enlightenment. You are greatness and create that around you. You spirit flies free and I soar with you. (Written on a bit of card cut into a small square, with a bird in a nest on the front.)
Monika and Steve, How can I begin to tell you what you have meant to me the last two weeks? I came to you broken and now I am free and whole… (Written on a paper torn from a notebook I keep by my phone, left on my coffee table.)
Mama. I miss cooking with you and sitting by the fire. I want to be with you but the wind keeps blowing and I keep going with it. It would be nice if I could keep you in my pocket. One day we will have a nice garden together, but don’t get any older or I will never catch up!’ (Written on a card showing a startling resemblance of my daughter when she was five, from Australia).
Dearest Mama. For the past two months we have been but ghosts passing each other in the hall. This must change because I am leaving soon to see the world and mama, I miss you and require a breakfast of apple pancakes with you! Your letter the other day was very helpful to my struggling mind. (Written on a piece of paper from the printer..scented with my daughters perfume…I smelled it many times while she was away, trying to hang on to her essence.)
Dear Monika…I feel like I have known you more than three days. I am glad I took your workshop, you lifted me up with your stories of fairies and goats and I thank you for your guidance and wisdom. I love your spirit. (Written on a Maya Angelou card that says: A joyful spirit is evidence of a grateful heart.)
Coyote…I am missing your pretty Polish ass, get home soon, because I can’t sleep without you. You are always leaving me for these long haired trips to meet with fairies, but then you come back, like you promise and I forgive you because I must. Follow your heart and I will be here. Love you.’(Written on a scrap of paper shoved into my suitcase, and is the only note my partner would let me share here…Coyote is my spirit name.)
And finally, a note I left under my partner’s pillow written on a thank you card, covered in my lemon verbena essential oil:
My love, thank you for once again launching me with such love and acceptance of my yearning to feel all that is ancient and magical in England. You have such patience with my dreams. Your love for me keeps me safe, so do not worry, all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. When I get back we shall have many things to discuss and much love to make. And you will make me tea and we will curl up by the fire and stare at each other because we will be new once again, won’t we? I know I do a great many goings away, but I must be free and you are the only one who truly understands that. And I love you for it. Kisses, your Coyote.
The magic of each note is in the writer’s hand, and in the ability for me to hold their thoughts in mine. There is an art to creating a meaningful masterpiece out of a few words and some scraps of paper, mailed or folded and left with your essence for the one you care about.
Let us make more of these memories with a handwritten note.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via the author