As long as I can remember, I have always liked to write. Never minded papers in school and almost always have a notebook on hand to trap thoughts in ink before they’re lost. Sometimes I use writing as a clarifying or an emptying from everything going on in my head. Can’t say it always proves fruitful; it seems there are times writing leaves me with more thoughts than before I started.
Since my dad died, writing has become an avenue of grieving and a source of healing. I’ve always felt more confident and better expressed with the written word over the verbal. Maybe it is because I am overly concerned with catching thoughts in their proper light, which means taking more time to attach words apt in describing that light. Speaking just seems too hurried for this process. The pause of my hand and the twirling of the pen in my fingers isn’t quite as awkward as an extended silence in a dialogue.
Thus, writing, specifically letters, has been a way for me to free the weight of the deep emotion and longing accompanying the wounds this life leaves us with. I may no longer be able to talk to the physical being of my dad, but I can tap into his spirit that remains inside of me by listening in the quiet to his voice in my heart. A letter, then, is my message back.
I would like to say this is always how it works. It would make the loss, dare I say, tolerable. However, at times, the ache of fleshly fatherlessness drowns out his voice inside of me. The volume is unbearably high. During these times, there are no words in response, rather solely a groan “too deep for words.” During these times, a letter is my groan.
So why letters? Not only do letters fulfill both a message and a groan, but they also become vessels of incredible joy. I am convinced there is nothing quite like receiving a written letter in the mail or being given a letter by someone who has taken time and a pen to express their thoughts about you. For me, there is a beauty and loveliness lining the words etched on a page, regardless of whether they tell of searing sorrow or palpable happiness.
Here’s to letters then, to lift the spirit and to stir the river rushing through the soul.