Last year, on our 20th wedding anniversary, my husband and I were separated. Not by choice, well not exactly. We were living in Wyoming, and after the loss of his father the previous year, we decided that we were just too far from home. We put our house up for sale in June of 2008, by the end of June my husband had a new job in California, and with the sudden slow down of the housing market, our sons and I were left to finish packing and selling the house in Wyoming…..and so on our 20th anniversary, he was sitting at the marina where we met and were married, and I was in Wyoming.
He called me from the marina, to tell me he loved me and missed me. I could picture him leaning against the rails along the docks in a Jimmy Johnson t-shirt and Levi’s, watching the sun melt into the water as it set, but I couldn’t picture what he did when we hung up. He wrote me a letter….a love letter, on a graphing pad he used for work.
Now, you have to understand that although my husband is very articulate, he doesn’t write letters….heck, he doesn’t write e-mails unless forced. He’s a commercial/industrial HVAC Technician, he uses his computer to program control equipment, research parts, and send reports…..oh, and to check the Nascar standings. So, although he buys cards for our special occasions, and writes romantic notes in them, he doesn’t write letters. I write letters…….
But he didn’t send the letter. It stayed in his clipboard, hidden behind work orders and parts receipts until late September when our house had finally closed escrow, and he brought the boys and me to our new home in Los Angeles. That first night, exhausted from two days of driving a u-haul 1200 miles, we fell onto the mattress we’d thrown on the floor in our new bedroom, and he reached over for his clipboard to pull out the letter he’d been saving for me.
“I know you’re the writer,” he murmured, “but I missed you so much while we were apart, and the night of our anniversary words just spilled out.” And, he tore the pages off the graphing pad and handed them to me.
Each word he’d written touched my heart. His love was evident in every line, as was the way he missed me. He wrote about the day we met, at the marina, on the patio of a little restaurant, that has long since been replaced. He wrote about our wedding one year later between the picnic tables where we had met. In his strong, masculine handwriting, he wrote that he would do it all again in a minute, without hesitation. And, I felt my heart pound as I read the words.
One letter, and after more than 20 years, I realized that he was a writer too.
He hasn’t written another letter since, although I still have hope. But, that one letter on the graphing paper has made me think a lot ….about him of course, but about what matters when you put your pen to paper. It’s connecting, …..connecting to the person reading it, making them think, making them feel, and letting them into your world.
So while I wait for another list topping love letter from my husband, I’ll hope that my own writing can connect with those who read it, like his love letter did with me.
Well, I need to go, I wrote a letter for my husband, and I want to give it to him at dinner tonight, at the new restaurant on our marina…….