The Words We Leave Unsaid
In my very first post I wrote about discovering a stack of beautiful blue engraved stationery that my mother had received around the time she was married. I found it years after her death, in a box full of wedding memorabilia. She’d never used it. If I know her, it’s because she was saving it, like so many things in her life, “for good”.
I couldn’t bring myself to toss it out; those pages pulled at me. They were so beautiful. Why didn’t she use them? They should have been used.
That’s how this project was born.
On the same day that I pulled her monogrammed pages out of that dusty box, I decided that I would use them to write letters to the women in my life; the women who had loved my mother and who loved me; the women who had seen each of us through struggle and heartache, and who had celebrated with us in our joy. I was going to make sure I left nothing unused, nothing left unsaid, because that’s what Use the Good Dishes is all about: making the most of the time you have on this planet, including loving the shit out of everyone God put here to help you and love you and laugh with you along the way.
But dreaming a dream is always easier than achieving it. The stationery sat in my desk drawer for a very long time; two years? Three? I was going to get started any day; I just needed to find the time.
And then in January, I lost someone I loved deeply and dearly. Norine was supposed to get a letter. She was one of the last links to my mom; someone who had loved me like a mother, held me as a baby, talked to me for hours as I grieved my mom and worked on building a life without her. Hers was among the first letters I’d planned to write, but I never did.
I wrote her eulogy instead.
Norine passed away on January 12th - the same date that my mother died, in fact. You may believe in coincidences, but I don’t. My very first thought, even as my knees hit the floor, was that I was too late - that I wasn’t ready; I had things I still needed to say to her.
Yet even that realization wasn’t enough to make me pick up my pen and finally start the project. It took the threat of global pandemic to give me both the unrestricted time and the sense of urgency to finally write the 21 letters you see here. There were 21 pieces of blue stationery in that box when I pulled it out of the basement, and this past Monday I mailed letters to 20 women I love (the last was held here for my daughter, Cayce). Even as you’re reading this post, letters should be arriving in mailboxes from Arizona to Florida.
There’s nothing dramatic or life changing in any of them; no confessions or unexpected declarations; none of them were written to heal a breach or open a closed door; they are simply message of love to people who are precious to me.
It’s funny how the Universe works; the timing of this post couldn’t be better. This threat is an excellent reminder that tomorrow is not promised; life changes on a dime (and almost nothing ever looks the way you think it will). There will never be a perfect time for anything, but there is a right time, and when it comes to telling someone how you feel, the right time is always now.
Tell someone you love them today.
Tell them you are sorry.
Tell someone that they have made a difference in your life.
The Universe has been pretty insistent with me of late - telling me again and again not to leave pieces of my life un-lived. Maybe this crisis is an extension of that insistence to every one of us - the call to not save for later anything that would be better enjoyed - or said - today.
I will always wish that Norine could have read her letter on this side of the veil. But as I wrote in my mother’s own eulogy, I believe that love created cannot die; the love we share with someone lives in us always, and we take it with us wherever we go - in this body or out of it. I will see her again - both of them - and I’ll say what I needed to say. And I will thank her for this lesson, for everything she taught me about love, and for the reminder to never let anything go unsaid ever again.