Today I was catching up on some of my thank you letters.
These are not the usual ‘thank you for your gift’ or ‘thanks for coming’ notes. Having promised myself I would get back on the wagon with Kristie’s challenge, I’m writing to people to say thanks for who they are, what they’ve meant to me, the blessings they’ve been.
I have had a lifelong affair with words but even more so with letters. There is something beautiful about catching words and holding them, butterflies that still live, still fly on the pin. They are the fleeting moments pressed into the page, made tangible so they can be touched and held after memory has passed away into dimness.
I like to think of myself as someone who puts out a lot of love, so my first thought was that as I’d already made my speeches and let my feelings fly – that this challenge might not have much to offer me. In fact, even just a few letters into this challenge, it feels like I am learning, finding and digging up unexpected treasures with each stroke of my pen.
I have lived like a rolling stone with a fondness for moss. When life is always moving, you either have to gather nothing and no one, or accept that your life will have as many ins and outs as a vigorous hokey cokey. I’ve done it like a silly dance, loved, laughed, made friends, let roots grow, then let them go.
I’ve said an awful lot of goodbyes so half my world always seem to be a world away, sinking as I rise. There is so much left unfinished, so many ’till we meet agains’. I never like to say the whole goodbye so I tend to leave like I’m popping to the shops – a blown kiss and a glance rather than a song and a dance. This way I escape a few of the tears but leave without feeling I’ve quite said my part.
Writing these letters has pulled together scattered pieces, torn up bits of this and that, the quarrel, the sunny day, the longing look. It frames them. In context they have a sense I didn’t see before, the lovely all. Words have given them breath, kind of made them flesh I can know, hold close and let go. Writing has been a release.
They have made me realise how much of what is unspoken is not always understood. They’ve shown me that I speak passionately of my friends, of how they inspire me and lift me – but often not to them.
From the responses I’ve had, I know the letters run with love. They are gifts worth the giving.
There is much in them that I’ve said before, but nothing’s lost in the repetition. I often laugh at how many times I said goodbye to my dad, how many tear-splashed words of love were sent from airports as I wondered if cancer would wait for my return. Many things I said again and again and again but I have never regretted one single soggy word. He was worth a hundred damp ‘I love you’s. I guess we all are.
Like incantations or spells, words can bring the good stuff more fully into life. They make magicians of us – the blessings look a bit better, a bit more substantial and there might just be a rabbit waiting in the hat…
Writing focuses the eye and, by definition, that narrows my view to gratitude, thankfulness. There are still the bugbears and burrs but they are fuzzier, edged into context where they are a little easier to forgive, just a bit softer to the touch and more possible to tolerate.
When we write we create, choose to omit or include, to prioritise and this letter writing process has reminded me that I have control over my stories. I am a co-author at worst, at weakest. When tale comes out all wrong there is often time for a re-draft, a better built chapter to follow, a change of heart. Some stories never quite work out but I can put them in a drawer, tucked out of view, and put them down to experience!
I am working my way down the list of names. At first I struggled for numbers but as I write I see more to value, more thanks to be said. The world seems just a little brighter with a grateful heart.