I have written many letters to which no-one ever replied.
Not email letters. Real letters.
It’s frustrating, I tell you, and enough to make a person pledge to never send another letter. Why bother, when these people either don’t care or lack the manners to acknowledge my effort?
I don’t expect replies to greeting cards and I’d never think of asking if they were received. It’s enough to know that I sent them.
Close friends and relatives get affectionate birthday cards, ones that may contain the word “special” or “love”, or “the gift of friendship”. Humorous cards are only for close relatives or other people I know very, very well.
But letters: they’re a whole different matter. Letters require more thought, more effort, more time. One has to think what news to respond to, what worries the person last confided, what wishes and needs were expressed.
So I settle down and write.
And there I am, weeks later, months later, wondering why I never heard back.
If I’m concerned enough, I will check with the guilty party.
“Did you get my letter?”
I am always shocked when the answer is: “No. When did you send it?”
And there’s the rub. I can’t actually pinpoint when. Can’t remember when I addressed and stamped the envelope then walked to the mailbox to post it.
What I remember is writing the letter. It’s mentioned right there in my journal, for heaven’s sake! I wrote it.
And those cards had been sent.
The truth revealed itself gradually, while I was doing that thing I hate: cleaning up my office and putting papers away. Opening boxes and large envelopes jam-packed with bits of paper and whole documents, many having only the most general connection.
An old receipt for gas. Don’t ask why. I don’t know.
An even older greeting card, kept for sentimental reasons.
A letter of reference from a former boss lies under a theatre programme.
It’s a collection of this, that and what-nots, evidence of a disorganized mind.
And then I spy…
I don’t believe it.
A greeting card I’d carefully chosen, written in, addressed and stamped.
And then — there are more. Three more.
The get-well wish, the celebration of success, the expression of heartfelt condolence.
Four cards, never sent.
And then I saw the letters.
Several of them, thoughtfully handwritten, two pages or three long.
Never stamped, never taken to the mailbox.
It gets worse.
One day I caught myself writing a letter in my head. And realized I’d probably done this with other letters before.
Written them, yes, but only in my mind.