I have always looked forward to getting the mail each day. (Is it any wonder I married a mail man?) Rarely is there anything more than bills or marketing offers addressed to “current resident.” But every now and then there is an envelope with my name hand-written on it, and I can hardly wait to open it to see what’s inside.
This was especially true after Paul died. I received dozens of cards from friends wanting to express their condolences. Every one of them evoked my emotions. Some made me cry because of the verse or the personal words they wrote. Others inspired me to stay strong through this difficult time. And still others overwhelmed me because they were from people I didn’t even know telling me how much my husband had meant to them.
I keep four of those cards in the pocket of my journal so that I can read them when I need a dose of comfort. Old friends from Arizona wrote that it was Paul’s “deep, passionate love for us” that fueled his battle to remain on this earth as long as possible, and that “the impact of Paul’s love inside each of you keeps the essence of who he is alive and active.” I take such consolation in those thoughts.
Just last week I got a card from Marlene, saying she was available for a meet-up for some coffee and a listening ear, or a good movie. A few weeks before, Judi wrote to say she was praying for us, knowing that it would be difficult to “celebrate love without thinking of Paul.” Nancy and Cindy sent similar messages of remembrance and hope and offered their generous support.
What’s especially moving about these cards is that they’re from women I haven’t been in regular contact with. Women from the church Paul and I used to attend who took the time to let me know the girls and I are on their minds, in their prayers, not forgotten.
Such a simple, yet profound, gesture of love delivered right to my door.
Knowing how much these cards mean to me, I’ve had to ask myself why I don’t send cards to people more often. I think about sending a get-well card to the sick or a sympathy card to the grieving, but that’s where my intentions end. What gives? I still have the birthday card I intended to send to my friend in February sitting on my desk. I texted her instead!
To cut me some slack, it seems fair to place some of the blame on the digital age. It’s so much easier – and faster – to send an email, shoot off a text, connect on social media, make a phone call or FaceTime. Much easier than selecting a card, writing the message without the benefit of spell check and the backspace bar, finding a current address, buying a stamp and getting it to the post office.
And there’s the rub. Mailing a card takes extra time, a good deal of effort, and a few bucks – not to mention some faith in the postal service to deliver it to its destination. Maybe these cards carry so much meaning for me because I know the effort that went into sending them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got hundreds of texts and emails saved on my computer and phone sent to me by family and friends who mean the world to me.
I just think there is something very special about holding a card or letter in my hand that was touched by and written with the sender’s own hand. From their hand to mine, it is human contact on paper that I can feel in new ways every time I open my journal and read their caring words over and over again.
I got one of those handwritten keepers today from my four-year-old granddaughter. She passed out a single sheet of note paper to some of our Easter dinner guests on which she’d “written” a message in hash marks and scribbles. She told us we should keep the note in our pockets so we could look at it whenever we wanted to. Yep, a girl after my own heart.
So how about you? Do you like getting personal cards or letters in the mail? Do you save them to re-read in the future? Why or why not? Or are you just as happy to get an email or text? Do you send handwritten messages to your friends and family? How often? What supplies do you keep on hand that help you follow through on your good intentions?
I’ve got an idea. I’d love to send you a hand-written card to cheer and inspire you. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and a brief explanation of why you’d like to receive one, and I’ll send you a card in the weeks ahead.
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Thanks for reading, friends. You just made my day!