Old Emails and Letters

A few times each year I try to go through my email accounts and clean them up.  I file the emails I need or want to keep and trash the rest.  It can be pretty time consuming, but it’s also a trip down memory lane.

My personal email account has messages from 15 years ago – that’s how long I’ve had this particular account.  Many of them make me smile and some make me cry bittersweet tears.  I still have one that I found in my outbox that I wrote to my dad about 3 months before he died.  I remember sitting at the computer in my mom’s dining room and trying to be really upbeat and brief in that email because I knew that he was dying from cancer and I didn’t want to depress him.  I tried to share my small victories (good grades at Chabot, weight loss) and remind him that I love him.  I look at his old email address and remember the business he started a couple years before that and helping him get the funding for it by proofreading his business plan.  And I remember how much I miss him.  I never really knew him that well, but I miss having the opportunity to do so and to learn who he was.

I go through something similar when I go through my printed correspondence.  I actually have a box full of old letters and cards that are important to me.  One of them is a love letter from DH, written a few years after we first got together.  It was midafternoon and I had fallen asleep.  We had both been working hard and writing papers for school and I was exhausted.  Rather than wake me up, DH pulled out a piece of paper and tried to sketch me a couple different times.  He finally gave up and wrote a letter instead.  He told me how much he loved me, how much I mean to him and how no matter how well he does with a sketch it will never live up to the perfection he sees when he looks at me.

It’s funny how no matter what happens, the written word has the power to evoke thoughts and feelings that may have been forgotten over time.  They remind us that no matter what’s going on in our lives, we are important to someone and that they are important to us.  They chronicle the growth we experience as individuals and as a group, and prove to us that even though things constantly change our history never will.  This is why I think the written word will not die.  The way we receive it will change, but the words themselves will continue to be produced and read for a long time to come.


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