Keeping Letters

Dear Andy,

I read another couple’s love letters this week. Their intimacy basked between the lines of their blog posts, like two lovers savoring skin-on-skin between fresh sheets. They penned about love and loss, wholeness and brokenness, trust and forgiveness. They wrote about marriage and life. About God.

Do you remember our love letters?

Much time has passed since the first note you penciled on a pale yellow Post-It. During that time when ‘we’ were new, you worked nights, and I days. I approached my desk one morning to discover your heart unveiled in handwriting – a sketched bouquet of daisies rested in the corner, under your signature. You wrote, “Closest to flowers I could manage at 2 a.m.”

I still have that handwritten note, cherished – as if the ink lines join our hearts.

Handwriting has held a cherished place for us.

Seven years ago, we prepared for our wedding. I suggested we write our own vows.

Your lips allowed a shaky S-s-sure to escape, before you could catch it.

I asked what you really thought of this idea.

You said it wasn’t that you didn’t want to write them, but were humbled by the honor of it.

“I just don’t want to disappoint you,” you confessed.

Your words never disappoint.

All these years later, can I tell you a secret? Searching for the right words sometimes left me frozen, staring at the blank page. How daunting it can be to put your heart to paper! I feared disappointing you, too.

My fears dissolved as I stood before you and God. Our vows flowed sweetly from our hearts, took on life.

We always looked for ways to use words.

Three summers ago, we got brave and wrote steamy love stories to one another. We created our stories – word by word, stroke by stroke – throughout the week, keeping words secret until the night of unfurling.

We lay on our bed that sultry evening, candles quivering gold across your face as you read your desires to me. The words took us deeper. Even through the writing, we were memory making, drinking it all in. Oh, how God blessed our love that night!

Not many Christmases later, we had little money for gifts. Instead, I gave you my words: a year’s worth of daily gratitude – reasons I was grateful for you. They were nestled in a Renaissance-style book, wrapped with a red bow.

journal

I thought we had nothing when I started gathering gratitude. Several months into the writing, I found I had everything.

open journal

Two years ago, when we spring-cleaned our bedroom, we poured through our nightstands. We sat cross-legged on the bed in a flood of faded letters and folded papers. Our emotions clung to the words as we swam in the current of blessings and hard-to-be places.

We took turns resurrecting the words. I found the prayer journals we started – our love letters to God. Your eyes held the collection of poems my heart birthed for you. I listened as you read a selection of them. Your voice brought memories to life. I rummaged through years of notes from you – notes you had pressed onto our bathroom mirror, tucked into my lunch pail, or slipped on my car seat.

A wave of bittersweet washed over your face. Your hand reached for those eleven-year old no-send letters you wrote to me. The ones you wrote during a time when I was broken, and didn’t know how to help myself. The ones you wrote after I left, after I broke a part of you. We had read them together before; they always deliver the pain – the ache you carried for loving me, the gnaw I carry for hurting you.

Sometimes we have to touch the scars to know we have healed. Click To Tweet

The letters we wrote when I came back to you became a symphony. For words, too, play music. I have come to see there is even beauty in the tension, blessings from the hard-to-be places. Click To Tweet

Stowed-away letters provide me with maps of where we’ve been, and confirm the ground where we stand. Our collections of words, cursive and Times New Roman, tell us we can do this thing called marriage as we write between the lines of our lives.

Thank you for making ink lines and signatures, and keeping letters with me.

Your writing partner,

Sharon

2 Comments

  • Lou
    2 years ago

    Such love, transparency in your writings Sharon. You are a true blessing to us all. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      2 years ago

      You are welcome.

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