I don't know anybody who doesn't love getting real mail. When I lived with my parents, I would sort through the pile of bills and catalogues that came through the front door's slot every day to see if an envelope had my name on it. While I rarely received anything, I never lost the kind of "infinite hope" that Nick Carraway admires in himself and in his pal Jay.
When I was at summer camp, travel programs, and later college, my parents would send me at least one letter every week. Like any privileged kid, I took their ability to take time and the expense of sending a letter, as well as the functioning mail system of our country for granted. On the other hand, I always appreciated getting the cards. Honestly, it didn't matter to me what those notes said as much as I loved knowing that they spent the time of writing focused on me. People, even if they were my parents, were thinking about me.
Seven years ago, one of my beloved colleagues decided to leave the school where I still work. His new job meant the departure also of his wife and baby daughter, who would ward to me if they both stopped living. I didn't want her to forget me because if the worst happened, she'd have enough horror to deal with without being scared of her new guardian.
To keep my name on her mind, I started making a point of writing her a letter every Friday. When her brother came along, I included him in the missives. As soon as they learned to draw/write, the mom helped them to reply. I don't know if they've gotten to the point of rolling their eyes when they hear that Auntie Carita has written to them, but I do know that once a week, they know that I took time for them. When we see each other in person, which is sometimes as infrequently as once per year, they know and remember me; we don't have to start over each time.
We have so many ways in life to show other people that we care about them. Writing a letter seems to me to be a pretty great opportunity to reach out, across time and space, to say, I'm thinking about you. I care about you. You matter.
If you want to post a comment, maybe you could start it with, "Dear Carita..."
by Carita Gardiner