Tuesday, December 22, 2009
WHEN THE CARDBOARD BOX OF LETTERS BECOMES AN INBOX
When my sister, Jeannie, and I were young, people often asked if we were twins. We were close in age and size but she was prettier and didn't talk as much as I did. And she could actually sing!
Eventually, we grew up and I moved away. We stayed in touch via long "gossipy" letters. I lived for those fat envelopes in my mailbox.
Then, at Christmas we'd swap our letters back again so she'd have the ones she'd written and I'd have mine. Which means that we now have a pretty amazing record of a certain period of our lives, including cute things our toddlers said, arguments with husbands, and major emotional setbacks.
I've been grieving the loss of those letters lately.
No, I didn't toss them. They didn't burn in a house fire or fall off the back of a truck. I have them in a plastic tub in my attic.
It's just that now, when we write, our letters fly through cyberspace.They zoom into my Inbox along with FaceBook comments, Twitter messages, and inquiries for author visits. Only the username marks them as special sister stuff. And I can't find Jeannie's beloved handwriting in there anywhere!
But what worries me most is how quickly I read them and click on to another message. And how they scroll out of sight so I can almost forget they existed. It's easy to miss important details like the particulars of a medical procedure, the name of her friend who died unexpectedly, or the emotional tone behind her words.
And of course, we can't indulge in the old easy "gossip" of the handwritten letters. If hubby and I just had an argument I am so not putting that in an email!
At the moment, I have over 4,000 letters in my Inbox. They're not all from Jeannie (or my other sisters) and I do use a folder system (sort of). But still...
I tend to keep emails because I might need to refer to a phone number, recipe, or some sentiment. They aren't nearly as desirable as my sister's handwritten letters but they're all I've got and I'm hanging on.
Tomorrow Jeannie and hubby are coming to spend Christmas with us. I'd give anything to have a cardboard box of letters to swap. But, at least, I won't have to settle for a cyber hug!
Jeannie enjoying her 4 wheeler. Don't you know, she's a fun grandma!