I used to write letters.
My parents would come home late after a long day at work. On our fridge door wait letters for my mom and my dad. I would ask them in the morning if they were able to read the notes and they would thank me with a kiss.
Sometimes, my mom would write back two or three sentences of reminders, “Don’t forget to bring your lunch” or “We will go buy our groceries when we get back.” She would sign it with a drawing of an eye, a heart, and a smiling letter U. I kept these letters in a box, collected them and reread them when a new letter didn’t arrive.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents and I live in one home. We stayed somewhere in the north where malls and movie houses weren’t that accessible. Even our school was two hours away when traffic would get so mean. Which is exactly why I would write my parents notes after doing my homework and display it somewhere they would easily find: the fridge door, the dining table, or on their bed. By the time they get home from work, my sister and I would be fast asleep.
Somewhere along growing up and getting busy, I stopped sending letters. No longer did the fridge door hold my feelings of missing my parents. No more of doodly flowers were planted on their beds. No milkshakes with sweet messages were waiting for them on our dining table.
Those letters were not stored in a box. When we transferred to a new home, I didn’t find any trace of them. I bet my mom wishes she had kept them safe for when she misses me.
Writing letters, I think, is more for the writer than the receiver. I look back at it and remember exactly how it felt when I was sealing handmade envelopes; so thrilling. There were times when I would go down to the very detail. I would put the date, day, and even the time I started and finished writing the letters. It made me feel like I was actually spending time with my parents even when they weren’t around.
Dear reader, you might think that letters are outdated, how text messaging and using social media messaging apps are better avenues to reach people that you miss. My sister would argue that emails are the new way of sending snail mails. But there is something about putting pen to paper and saying what is unsaid and crossing out mistakes that makes a letter different from any other form of reaching out.
My mother recently discovered using stickers through Facebook Messenger. I once chatted her, “I love you” and she replied with a sticker. I then asked why she would do such a thing, in a sad tone (I don’t know how I got that tone across through chat) and she said that that’s how she says I love you back now.
These advances are meant to keep ties uncut but there are hints of detachment in every click of the like button, or every laugh reaction that makes me itch for more. There is a space that isn’t filled by instant messaging and photo sharing that letters do, straightforwardly: “I took the time to write and make you this.”
Dear reader, I took the time to write you this; a note that I pass on to you. When you have it in you, write to those you love. When you receive it, save it. You never know when they’ll stop coming.