Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time capsules

I worked until 4 a.m. this morning. Just couldn't sleep, but at least I was being productive and earning a living. Two things kept me awake: a letter from one of my cousins about a letter she received from me last Saturday and Beanie being upset because of something I wrote seven years ago. In the end, it's all about me.

My cousin, Ellen, and I have been getting to know each other after not seeing or hearing from one another for 20+ years. It started when I sent out notices of my stories being published. Many of my family began contacting me after that and some of them I hadn't heard from in a very long time. Even my ex-husband and his foul-mouthed wife contacted me, his wife to tell me I didn't know anything about writing and that fans of my blog weren't real people.

Yesterday's email from Ellen was different. She wrote about working in her front yard, glad for the warm spring day after so many wet, cold days and thinking about Allyson, her niece, who died a few months ago. She was melancholy and remembering back to the day Bobbi Jean and her husband brought Allyson home from the hospital after she was born. Ellen waited on their porch for a long time so she could hold Allyson as long as she wanted without having to share her with the rest of her large family. When the mail truck drove up she went to the mailbox and saw my letter and sat down on the porch to read it and she sobbed.

It was a good had been building all day, and I finally released it! This Spring has been so gloomy and cold...before I received your letter, I had thought about the "sadness" in the Spring...but I NEVER could have described it like you did. ... Funny how something like that can really be such a gift to someone.

Then there's Beanie who was upset about what I wrote yesterday in this blog (scroll down to yesterday's post to read).

She emailed to tell me I wasn't at Gram's bedside when she died, but nothing in the post says I was. Mom did relent and tell Gram she could go the day she died in the nursing home with family around her, but that was about two years later.

People see what they want to see in someone else's words. They sometimes miss what's right in front of them. They get angry over something they've misread because the truth is painful or brings up feelings they'd rather not acknowledge. Sometimes people get what you intend when they read the words. They know you understand how they feel and give them a voice, and often from the very same words.

Whether I write for myself or for someone else, I always share my heart and a piece of myself. I don't always remember what I write, but the spirit of the words stays with me and I can conjure again the feelings from the first few words.

I decided to write Ellen another letter because in some way answering her in an email seems less true, less meaningful, less me. She told me she enjoys each of my letters and that they are like gifts. I may write Beanie a letter to let her know I understand why she reacted the way she did. One thing I do know is that all this technology and these bits and pieces of life and feelings and time capsule moments are fragile. When the technology is gone, all of it will cease to exist as though it were no more than smoke in the wind, but my letters will remain, held together by a ribbon or dried out rubber band that crumbles the moment it is touched and stretched. The paper will be brittle and yellowed with age, but the words will still be readable, a relic of the past with words and feelings that reach out through time and space to touch another heart and mind, or just show that in the mundane moments of the past long gone, people were still the same. Another time capsule waiting to be opened and experienced anew.

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