In our digital day and age, of iPhones and tablets, of Facebook and text messages – it’s become all too easy to forget how important the written word is.
I lost my mom to cancer in the fall of last year, and not even twenty-four hours after she died did I begin a frantic search for her, for a connection to her. I listened to every voicemail, scrolled through her Facebook page, and physically looked through her closet. I needed to find her, some piece of her, that was tangible.
It wasn’t until I came upon letters from her that I realized this was tangible. This was more a part of her than any Facebook update or dress hanging in her room.
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve been gone a whole week. It still feels like you are just having a sleepover – until I look in the room ‘formerly known as Angie’s’ and then it hits me again, that you are gone.”
-May 24, 2001
I had just moved out, on my own for the first time when she wrote this. I look over her words, I touch them, and close my eyes imagining how she once held this paper. Her thoughts, her love, her treasured soul poured out into them.
Recently while visiting with my grandmother, she shared with me how important the written word has been to her. Early in their marriage and then just into parenthood, my grandparents lived out of state, away from family and friends they’d known their entire lives.
She checked the mailbox daily, religiously, for a letter from home. A connection. A simple hello, that would mean they were missed, and treasured, and cared for. She said with sad eyes, “We didn’t get many letters those years. I sure wish we had.”
I’ve thought about this a lot lately, the legacy we are to leave behind. How many handwritten letters will my loved ones have from me? Or is it all buried within the walls of my Instagram account? Hear me when I say I am a lover of social media; however, I’m realizing how important it is to also leave the tangible.
How can I do this? A letter to my grandmother. A journal for my children. A note left for my husband in his wallet.
For me, this is important. My frantic search for my mother taught me just how important it is. A conversation with my grandmother taught me just how important it is.