Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

The possessions I treasure are a collection of items: letters and journals. Letters and letter writing have been a part of my life from childhood. I believe the first letter I received was from one of my brothers. I was a child when he wrote me for the first time; he had migrated to the U.S.A. earlier that year. I recall feeling valued as I held his letter. What I remember best about the content of his letters was the questions he asked; they indicated genuine interest in what I thought, although I was a child, a style of interacting that continues to this day.

Although my letter writing practice has waned over the years, I still enjoy writing and receiving letters and among those I hold dear are letters from my parents. The exchange of letters between my parents and I began after I left home to reside in the U.S.A. They wrote me individually. I can recall birthday and Christmas cards that came from both of them, but never a letter. It was as if each was nurturing our unique relationship and, as I reflect on their letters now, I recognize that my father and mother each focused on different matters in his or her letters. My mother spoke more of spiritual things, encouraging me to give priority to my relationship with God. She would speak of other matters but, as in face to face conversations, spiritual concerns were a staple in her letters. My father’s letters were an interesting mixture of updates about everyone I knew and about everything, from the family dog to the fruit trees in the yard. I recognize now that it was a way of sharing his life with me and helping me remain connected to the world and people I had left behind. His letters also conveyed curiosity about my experiences here, woven together by love for and pride in me. My parents have been gone from this earth for decades. “All kinds of everything,” as the song goes, remind me of them but rereading their letters connects me with them in a unique manner.

As mentioned earlier, my journals are the second of my possessions that I treasure. I had an “ah ha” moment when I recognized that both of my treasured possessions involve the written word. I have engaged in journal writing for at least two decades. I stopped briefly once when a now former intimate read several of my journals without my permission. This brief estrangement with journal writing ended when I decided to not let the unprecedented violation of my privacy rob me of the emotional, mental, and spiritual space that journal writing is for me. Initially, after I began writing again I had to fight to not censer myself; thankfully, that struggle was short.

My journals vary in color and size but most are in the vicinity of 8 ½” by 4.” Nothing existential or deep determines the size. Just my preference.

Letters from loved ones and my journals are the collection of items that I treasure. Unlike other items I own, these are irreplaceable. I would feel their loss deeply but given that I continue to live and grow after the deaths of my parents, I know I would cope with the loss of these treasured items.

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