This is what I believe. I believe that there is absolutely no substitute for a handwritten letter. Sure, e-mail is useful. It allows you to communicate a tremendous amount of information to an equally large number of recipients, in very little time. Yet, somehow, I can’t help but think that that damn blinking cursor gets in the way of transmitting from heart to hand. When I need to say something truly important, there’s nothing like good old fashioned pen and paper.
The first time I ever understood the power of a letter was in the eighth grade. It was the beginning of the school year and my mother had just passed away after a long battle with cancer. I’m not sure I fully understood the impact of what was happening around me, but I know that a sympathy card from an unexpected source completely changed the course of my emotions. Jeff was the class jester. He regularly poked fun at my awkward, chubby, and nerdy twelve year old self, but when the class made cards for me, it was his that stood out. I still remember what it said – “I’m here if you need me.” I was sure that he meant it. Those words were there, on paper, for me to hold on to.
I am still holding on to those words sixteen years later. I have tried to apply that sentiment to the way I live, and all with letters. In college, separated from my love, we sent notes to each other almost every day. When my friend’s mother was sent to a nursing home, suffering with lung cancer, I tried to send her a card once a week. I randomly and regularly send cards to friends, and I imagine the smiles on their faces as they pull a note out of their mailbox, so much nicer than a bill. There is always room for another thank you card. My mom taught me that you can never say thank you enough. I just keep trying to let everyone I love know “I’m here if you need me”, and maybe because I care enough to pay postage they’ll know that I mean it too.
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