/No Address and No Stamp
by Marta Felber
I folded the letter, placed it in an envelope, licked and sealed the flap. I wrote Marta in the upper left hand corner and Joe as the person to whom it was to be sent. Then I stopped. What address and what stamp?
This incident happened a month or so after Joe died. I had been saying to myself, perhaps self-righteously, "I have no regrets, no guilt." Hadn’t I appreciated him and told him that I did? Wait! Remember when Joe asked you to do something for him that evening in the hospital and you did not do so? Yes, I did remember, quite clearly. The guilt of it nagged me, day after day.
Finally, out of desperation, I grabbed paper and pen and started to write, "Dear Joe, how I wish I had crawled in bed with you that night when you asked me. I knew the night nurse was overdue. That was no excuse. She would have understood. I wish I could have another chance. Please forgive me." Suddenly the pen took over! It was writing an answer from him. "Marta, I understand. There is nothing to forgive. Remember when we did cuddle in bed on Christmas Day? You fed me Christmas cookies, soaked in milk so I could swallow. That is what I remember." Relief flooded over me.
That letter was the first of many written to Joe. Sometimes answers came from him in the form of the pen writing what he surely would have said. The letters varied in content and reasons for writing. I shared my joys and sorrows, problems and possible solutions. And sometimes guilt returned to haunt me. Each time that happened I would try to decide what portion of the guilt I was due, forgive myself for that much, and let the undeserved guilt go.
Christmas was coming. It had been several years since Joe died. Why was I still missing him so much? I would send him a special Christmas message. On the day before Christmas I bought a red balloon filled with helium, and managed to get it and the groceries into my car and home. On Christmas Day I was ready with my note to Joe, written on red stationary and tied to the string. Who would find it someday? It did not matter. I was prepared to watch the balloon and note slowly waft heavenward while I continued thinking about Christmases past with Joe. As I released the string the wind was blowing. Whoosh! The balloon shot up like an arrow and out of sight in seconds. No need for an address or stamp!
Notes from Marta:
It is never too late to write letters to important people in our lives, sharing from the present or dealing with issues from the past.
Choose a safe place to store them, perhaps in a large envelope with instructions on the outside not to read and how they are to be destroyed.
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