Paper Trail


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.

"Tree Of Life"

“Tree Of Life”




About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

14 responses »

  1. Maureen,
    This is so lovely. Just this morning, I gathered cards my husband received while in the hospital, his two most recent stays. He is keeping them in a shoebox for enjoyment on future days. Put away, but not forgotten.

  2. What a sweet post! I have one of my grandmother’s Bibles. I love to flip through it and read part of her paper trail–newspaper clippings, amens, and thoughts. There’s power in the printed word. Power to wrap us in hugs and carry us to off to visit those who are now unreachable.

  3. Maureen, this post is a reminder of the real legacy of those we have loved and who left us always too soon. Isn’t it amazing how completely we lose ourselves in time and place when we recover those precious remnants — the essences of their creative spirits. That paper trail is so much more than they appear to be. Thanks you for reminding us.

      • Yes, I knew you were referring to Lynne. I have several photos of her that grace our frig (along with those of your family and many others of our friendship group in addition to kids and grandkids.) You are all the fabric of my life.

  4. What a lovely post Maureen. Brought back many memories of our dear friend of others I have lost in the last few years. I feel so badly as in our move to our condo some many things went in the trash as I didn’t know where to put them. Luckily I have many pictures of all of us and our memorable day on the beach when we launched our paper boats in memory of Lynne!

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