While re-reading a favorite book this morning, I find a card that had been tucked into its pages. Dated 2005, the card was written by a dear friend who shortly afterward lost her brave battle with cancer. “The pitter patter of rain and tweets of birds give me comfort,” she writes. “Spring is finally arriving.” And suddenly there she is sitting near me, as vivid and as beautiful and as full of fun as she always was.
There is a paper trail in my life. I admit it. It exists because I can never bear to throw away a meaningful card or letter written by friends and family. Pretty cards end up tucked away in books. Letters either make their way into a special lacquer box or turn up in unforeseen places. Just so the letter from my late Uncle Joe appeared while I was straightening out my sock drawer some time ago. “My dear Hopeless,” it began, and I sat down to chuckle and read his news and gossip—twenty years old but as new as the birdsong outside my window. He called me Hopeless because I was always driving my golf ball into ponds and sand traps, and I retaliated by renaming him Fuss. Fuss and I were great friends and shared so many adventures, and as I read his letter, I could almost hear him laughing as we both landed in some scrape or other.
Reading these chance-found messages not only draws the writer closer but brings to life a moment in the past. “My heart goes out to you for your mother’s passing,” one letter says, “I know all too well the pain of loss.” Thirteen years after my mother’s death, I can sit and read the words and feel not the sharp stab of loss but a gentle remembrance that heals rather than hurts. “Get better,” another card urges. “Everything else can politely wait its turn.” I laugh ruefully. It really has been a long recuperation from this latest bug.
There are happy finds, of course, funny little notes from sons and grandchildren who had then just begun to write. Huge block letters surrounding pictures drawn in crayon, crinkled valentine’s hearts which proclaim, “I lov yu.” And tucked away again in special books are poems and wonderful letters bursting with youth and promise. Amazing treasures can be found in my paper trail!
Can this small hand print
Belong to that young giant
With the dazzling smile?
This morning, though, I sit with my long lost friend’s card in my hand and continue to read. “Warmth,” she tells me, “is comforting as opposed to the chills of winter. Although I do not wish the days to evaporate too quickly, I do embrace springtime…”
I put down the card and look outside my window where daffodils are curtseying to the wind and know that I will never lose my friend. My paper trail is a bridge that connects the past, the present and so many dreams for the future— a shining linkage of love, remembrance, and hope.
In these things you live
Always bright and beautiful
Always here with me.