I fell in love with this idea the moment that I saw it on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog and knew I had to participate in this forgotten, time-honored method of communication. A month of letters challenge. I can’t even remember when I sat down and wrote an actual letter, probably 30 years, maybe more. Even though its appeal has many layers, I jumped on an exercise of mindfulness combined with the ultimate slowing down.
I also immediately knew who the recipient of my letters would be. Seeing that it is close to Valentines Day, this all fit together perfectly demonstrating the message of love and caring that I needed to convey to my friend Becky. You see, her mother has recently been placed on hospice and as the days pass by, it requires more creativity in finding ways to help her family while going through this type of experience. Heartfelt gestures seem to be the winners.
For years I’ve shared my flowers from my very abundant garden from early spring jonquils through to the end of the year mums and sunflowers with Becky’s mom. Her mother Grace, was always that, graceful and elegant. She loved each of my amateur arrangements and would care for them until they were finally spent, then she would wash the vase and have her daughter return it to me for more. And there always were more until now, middle of winter, I have no flowers or foliage to offer them in her true hour of need.
So they will receive letters. An entire month of letters, maybe more. I’m not sure how I could simply stop in 30 days, this must be a project that continues through Grace’s decline and passing as well as the mourning period and beyond.
Each day Becky comes home from her day job, exhausted but determined to continue the care for her ailing mother, it is a devotion that is pure and patient. She changes clothes, feeds her dogs, gets her mail and heads over to her mother’s home to feed and bathe her, play cards or sit in the surreal horror of watching her mother trying to breathe. This takes an amount of focus mixed with acceptance to dance through this minefield of emotions. And so far they managed to dance with Grace.
I mailed the first card today after discovering Mary’s blog. At the very least, my friend will come home to a daily card from me in the mail. It will probably contain a photo of a dog nose to nose with a cat or an equally funny expression. These are her favorite types of images to share with her mom, those of animals, babies or flowers. Before she leaves for the evening with her mother, I hope to give her a small break in her day. I don’t know that it will be enough to turn away sadness or grief but I’m hoping a glimmer of hope or a smile.
I will also mail a card a day to Grace, knowing that Becky will faithfully retrieve it from her mailbox and share it with her also. Hers will contain photos of flowers, its all I know to do for them now.