Episode 2 – Loving Letters

January 4, 2023

So I opened my laptop this morning, and I was shocked to see my family peering back at me. I had forgotten that I changed my screensaver. It’s a photo of my mother and her four children, me being the baby. My Father’s handwriting is scribbled across the bottom and it says, Constance, here’s a little reminder , so you won’t forget your quirky family. Love dad.

It makes my heart skip a beat every time I see my father’s handwriting, and I felt that way all my life.  His love language was letter writing. When I was in summer camp and college, and over 20 years in Europe, my father always sent letters. He would decorate the envelopes and he would send clippings and, I don’t know, it was just so beautiful. So it was cool to see this.

As I was starting to tell that story, I realized that my love of letter writing may actually track back to my father. His letters weren’t gushy. They were, like I said, little notes and love quips, but I’ve always had this fascination with letters.

Anyway, I opened my computer and went to the file that reads ‘letters to people I love.’ There aren’t that many in there because most of my letters are handwritten, but I found one that I wrote to my buddy Charlie. Charlie is my dear friend Lisa’s son. I’ve known Lisa since she was 11, and this is a letter I wrote to Charlie to accompany a Christmas present that was given to him when he was about 11.

The letter reads,   This little gift I have for you, Charlie, comes with a great story about friendship. Mary Notter was one of my two best friends growing up.  She came from a large family and there were nine kids.  They lived in a large white house on the corner.  Mary’s family was very different from mine, and for most of the other families in the neighborhood, they had very little money. They had a stinky house that drove beat up cars, and some of the kids got into trouble. Even though Mary’s house and family at times made me feel nervous and uncomfortable, I accepted Mary for who she was, and we shared a great friendship. 

One day, about seven years ago, I went on a trip to Colorado with my parents. Mary lives there, and I got to see her again for the first time in over 20 years. Even though many years had passed and we had very different lives, we had the best time together. Mary told me a story about myself that I had totally forgotten. It was about something very generous and kind that I had done for her, something she had never forgotten.  It made me cry and brought back a lot of great childhood memories.  At the end of our nice day together, she took off her jacket and gave it to me, knowing just how much I loved it.

It makes me especially happy that you are the one who is inheriting my prized jacket, because I think one of the very nicest things about you, Charlie, is that you really know how to be a friend.  It makes me and your family proud that you befriend people old and young, nerdy and weird, shy and outgoing, and from all different countries and walks of life. You are generous with your spirit and you are a very kind person, which is way cool.  I love you Constance 

Whew, that was emotional.  I think it’s because it reminded me of my father. My father was always speaking to what he called my higher self. He was always noticing and recognizing and calling attention to the nice things about me, and I can see that I was doing the same with Charlie. I had totally forgotten. Charlie was a gregarious, loving, friendly, exuberant kid. He drove people nuts sometimes, but I really saw that he was so inclusive, and he was an equal opportunity lover. He was friendly and nice to everyone.

While I while I’m on the, on the subject of letter writing… I’ve been carrying around a letter that I received in 2008, the year my father died. It was probably January 2009.  I remember being so surprised when I received it. It was from a man named Peter, who was a very senior executive in the fashion business. He was a bit of a mysterious man, a mercurial figure. He and I had a very respectful bond, but I don’t know him very well. I’ve never spoken to him since.

This letter that he wrote to me –  which I rediscovered about a year ago – after my father died suddenly in a car accident. Peter had sent me a limited-edition book on grief with this long, handwritten letter. I remember at the time thinking how lovely and thought he was, but the letter that accompanied the book didn’t completely land with me.  I was new to grief and I was still completely raw from this experience.

When I rediscovered it about a year ago, I thought it would be really cool to send it back to him, so I went and had it photocopied. I’ve been carrying around this idea in my head, but I haven’t exactly followed through. Seeing the letter that I wrote to Charlie is making me realize how cool that idea is. I want to send it back to  Peter so he can see his words in his own writing, which I’m sure he’s forgotten. He’ll get to see just how thoughtful and kind he was at that time. That period was so painful for me.

Anyway, you know how when you’ve been carrying around a notebook for months and you’re like, ah, I’ve got to give it up but you have all those little treasured notes to yourself? I don’t know, notes you’ve taken, lists of things to do, things you don’t want to forget., whatever it is. I like to go through and highlight them, and then I bring them forward into my new notebook.

I was doing that over the weekend, and I found this beautiful thing that I wrote. I’m not quite sure where it came from. It’s what I call a beautiful question. Oh, I, I remember it was from an interview with Tim Ferris and with Jack Cornfield. The question he posed was this: what would love have you do today?

So if I turn that question on myself, what would love have me do today?, It would obviously be to take a moment and write to Peter. And it would also be to keep my phone off today because I have been out in the world a lot and I need to have a quiet day.  So I’ll ask you that question.  What would love have you do today?

That’s all for now. Until next time, from my heart to yours

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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