Friday, May 08, 2009

Rereading Old Letters

I feel bittersweet about rereading old letters. I've been going through a lot of old papers lately, getting rid of old bills, paycheck stubs, tax forms from the '90s, and so forth.

But mixed in with the boxes are lots of old Christmas cards, letters from people, old friends, as well as personal writings, notes, whatever. It's hard to look at some of it because they're from loved ones no longer around.

My grandmother used to write to me and always sign her cards and notes in a particular way. And since she died so long ago, it's kind of sweet to see her letters and especially look at the way she signed them. In that case the distance of time -- probably since I've thought about her so much over the years -- takes away any grief.

I had a dear friend who moved out of the country, though, so that's grief of a whole different sort. To look at his letters from the '80s and one or two from the '90s -- and to know that we're totally out of touch now -- is a sad thing. I reread one of them a couple days ago and felt a little down. Especially since he didn't die. It's not like we couldn't have been friends all this time, but it just didn't happen.

Some of the stuff I'm getting rid of -- after digitizing most of it -- and some I'm keeping. The trick is not to keep so much stuff that I'm still wading through clutter. I know though if I get rid of something I later will want, there's no store to go to buy another copy. Obvious.

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