Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Much Anticipated Letter Arrives.

A FEW months ago I wrote a very personal article - a reflective piece, definitely - that was published in the newspaper I work for. It concerned a childhood friend and how she faced an unplanned pregnancy when we were in high school in the 1960s. (There never seems to be a good time for an unplanned baby, and high school in the 1960s wasn't a welcoming place for pregnant teenagers.)
So I wrote this article, it got published and I got a lot of feedback from people. One suggested I send the article to the friend I'd written about. So I did. I had planned to and then thought maybe not; she might be upset by it. Finally I sent it off. I thought I might hear back right away. Then as the days passed, I thought she might be upset about it and didn't want to have anything to do with me. Maybe she didn't want to remember those times at all. (I also thought maybe she didn't care. Maybe I'd remembered so many things differently from the way they'd really happened she'd just laughed, shook her head and put the papers in a pile somewhere.)
Well, today a letter arrived from her. I put it on the counter in the kitchen and looked at it for a while. I got no hints from it, except I knew by feel that it was more than one page. I went outside to tell the Mister it had arrived. "Open it," he said.
"I'm almost afraid to," I replied.
"Oh, go ahead."
Carefully I tore a small piece of the sealed flap.
"Well, no explosive device," I said. "Wow, it's three handwritten pages!"
I went inside to sit and read the letter. Twice I got a lump in my throat.
Once when - in talking about something my father had done - she described our fathers: "Our dads were so big in those days - and brave, too."
And then again when she ended the letter with "Miss you & Love you, P."
As young girls, and then teenagers, we always seemed either at odds with each other, our bodies, the opposite sex or the world - sometimes all four at the same time. So much confusion about who we were and what we would ever become. All of that contributed to a confusing sort of friendship and love.
Today that love is clearer. It's a love for a person who shares lots of secrets and memories of the person I once was and the person I could have become; the person who could have been a better friend, but she doesn't hold any grudges.
At the end of the letter I was in tears. Mostly happy ones for the friendship that is still there. I'll write back - femminismo


Candace said...

Jeanne, thank you for sharing this profoundly personal and moving experience. Sometimes a reaching out really is all it takes.
And the letter -- handwritten! Goodness, I thought those days were certainly gone.

Have a good Friday through Forever.

Candace said...

And by the way, I have a little something for you on my blog. Go get it when you can.

Mrs. G. said...

Tissue please. Beautiful.