Over the holidays, I committed myself to cleaning out the house; kind of like a spring-cleaning in the winter. The New Year was approaching, and I wanted to start a lighter, fresher more unencumbered year. And since there were closets and cabinets I hadn’t tended to in quite a while, I figured it would be the perfect time to go through things and reorganize the house a bit. The project took me a few days, but I was determined to start at one end of the house and work my way through to the other side. It actually began as quite a liberating experience. I emptied closets and dusted shelves. I donated things I didn’t even know I had and trashed things I no longer needed. I kind of enjoyed the process and eventually was really to tackle my walk-in closet.
I share the closet with my husband, and I realized we weren’t maximizing our space. Over the years, we had just shoved things in there, some of which I knew I could get rid of. If I just rearranged a few things we would both have a bit more space. As I went through drawers and refolded sweaters, I came across an envelope at the bottom of one of my husband’s drawers. It was one of those knick-knack drawers, with an assortment of different things that didn’t really belong anywhere in particular. I could tell he had just thrown things into it over the years and hadn’t really opened it in a while. But all the way on the bottom, underneath an old college sweatshirt and an ugly scarf was a sealed white envelop. I recognized his handwriting instantly and I even recognized the addressee.
As I picked up the letter and held it close, I found myself sliding to the floor, tears welling in my eyes. The enveloped looked a bit old and weathered, as if written several years ago. It seemed like he had stuffed it in the bottom drawer and forgotten about it. I was confident it was his writing because I too had received my share of these love letters. As I sat there, wondering what he had written, I knew I had a decision to make. I could either approach my husband about the letter; I could deliver the letter to its intended recipient the next time I saw her; I could put it back where I had found it; or I could rip it open and read through it….
I decided to place the letter back in the drawer, lay the ratty old sweater over it, and leave it be. I’ve always known my husband to be an eloquent writer who enjoys expressing his thoughts and emotions on paper because I have a shoebox full of old love letters, birthday cards and post-it notes that he has given me over the years. I just didn’t know there was anyone else who received these kinds of expressions. My tears weren’t those of anger, disappointment, or even sadness. They were the emotional expression of knowing how sentimental and precious such a letter is.
My husband and I have three children together, our eldest a girl. And I assume our daughter was nothing more than a toddler when my husband took the time to write this letter. It felt several pages thick, so he must have shared his most honest thoughts and feelings, his desires and fears, his hopes and dreams. But interestingly enough, he sealed the letter and hid it where no one would find it. Even more interesting is that the letter has an intended delivery date—less than one year from now.
You see, our daughter was merely a child when my husband wrote this letter to her, and it seems as if he is waiting until her 16th birthday to delivery it. I know it won’t be the only love letter she ever receives, but I hope it is one she will cherish forever.
And so, I dusted a few more shelves, organized my shoes, refolded a few more sweaters and closed the closet door. Then I poured myself a glass of wine and sat at my desk. My husband had inspired me to share my thoughts and dreams with my child too. Just because he had written his letter so many years ago didn’t mean it was too late for me. There is so much that I would like to tell her—about myself, about life, about the world around her. And yes, I could just speak those words to her. But often, our verbal words are lost amidst the noise around us. But our written words are never lost. I sealed the envelope and placed my letter under the ratty old sweatshirt and knew I had let my mom ability guide me.