Postal connections


Remember the More Love Letters project? I’m still writing strong for those who need a boost, and I wanted to mention the team’s new system: more people! More love letter requests! More good sent out into the world!

I know I harp on the power of the written word (perhaps too often?), but I really believe “real” mail — a letter, care package, little trinket . . . or just a “hi!” card — has the power to restore the spirit. When’s the last time you received something other than a sales flyer, bill or charity request? How did it make you feel?

More than a decade after the digital explosion, I see many people now taking a step back from media like Facebook. Maybe we’ve over-shared. Maybe we’re fatigued from the whole experience. It might seem strange to scrawl this on a blog, of all places, but I also find myself turning a little more inward and sharing less online these days. When I see my friends in person, I don’t want all my stories to be something they already saw on Instagram.

I like having moments — real moments — just for us. And for my fiance. And for my family. It’s not all about shouting into the void, waiting to see if anyone will bite. Life is fragile and way, way too short. We all crave real connection.

Mail can do that.

If the idea of penning words of encouragement to a stranger feels a little weird to you, I challenge you to embrace the weirdness. Get out that box of note cards you got for your birthday but have never had an occasion to use. Pick up a funny card for 99 cents at the grocery store. Heck, steal a page of your kid’s notebook paper and just sit down to write. Whatever you say will be more than enough. There are people who need you. And when you learn about them, the words will come to you. They always do.

Putting my cursive where my mouth is

I get downright excited when a More Love Letters request reaches my inbox.

And then I feel guilty for being “excited” — because there’s a reason people are requesting letters for a loved one. Someone is hurting. Or grieving. Or sick. And they need some encouragement.

July’s request came in for Jim, a father fighting cancer. Since little information is shared about letter recipients to help protect anonymity, we don’t know much beyond that — except for what the More Love Letters team and Jim’s daughter have shared:

“This month we hope to deliver a large bundle of letters filled with support, strength, and love to Jim’s mailbox. Jim’s daughter Samantha requested an outpouring of love in her dad’s honor. “He is the kind of person who makes people feel good about themselves . . . He never had great wealth, but he was always rich in friends, loved ones, and experiences.

“Jim was diagnosed with cancer last year, and has experienced drastic changes to the life he once led. ‘He had to stop working, grew tired too easily, and lost the laughter that we came to rely on.’ Samantha wants her father to be reminded by this Love Letter Bundle of how much he is loved and what a great man and father he is and always will be.”

Having just lost a beloved uncle to cancer in January, this request hit close to home — and having also helped a parent through a serious medical condition and recovery, it hit doubly close to home.

I was thinking about Jim and his family as I ran to Target on my lunch break Tuesday. While I finished a feature at work. As I answered emails and imported content for my next project. As I paged through a stack of blank cards in a desk drawer, looking for one he might like.

Though I don’t have a cure for cancer or too many insights to share, I do have a heart full of empathy, a pen and a love for the written word. So I continue to put my cursive where my mouth is and write notes for those who might benefit from a few words of encouragement. As everything is kept anonymous, no contact information is exchanged — so I won’t know if/when Jim will read my letter. But I don’t need to. I think it’s enough to believe he will see it and, if just for a moment, know someone out there is rooting for him.

In keeping up with my own resolutions to do more for others in my 27th year, I’m planning to continue writing for the More Love Letters project in the months to come. If you’re interested in writing to Jim or anyone else in need, check out the website and its mission.

P.S. Happy birthday to my own dad, the great and talented Rick! Hope you’re not too disappointed with your birthday present.