Sometimes, you get me into these kinds of things, and they always seem like bad ideas until I actually do them. I was enriched by your letters last year to your unborn son, and I figured that it can’t hurt to try. I say, “Oh, I won’t make the time to write,” but I just might get the nerve.
I’m taking up where you led me, which is to letter-writing. I have been doing a lot of that lately. Most of those letters have gone unsent, and they will remain that way. Some are getting sent: letters to my friend Mike in Arkansas and my friend Mary in Oslo, mostly. I’ve found it good to craft my personal correspondence a bit, because I have been perhaps a bit verbose and roundabout in past writing. You would know.
I have written you so many emails, in both good times and bad. I feel like a lot of those got written in bad times, and I feel that the emotional balance was very uneven. You were there when I needed you, though, and even though we don’t email like we used to, I cherish all that correspondence and our friendship. I think that we all would stand to learn well from our friends so that we may be a bit better for the experience. I have learned many things from you, and I would say that the best one you’ve shared is the quiet grace that allows you to say, “This is what I believe, and this is what I’m unsure about.” I have learned that it’s okay to be unsure, to be maybe. I don’t know if that’s what you intended to pass along, or if you’d find that any of that holds true to your sense of our friendship, but it’s what I’ve gotten. I don’t know that anyone who’s spent a half-hour in a room with me would call me naturally quiet or graceful, but I am learning.
These letters written in public can be a bit forced, or it feels that way to me. If I was just sending you an email, I could spend a few hours looking up important emails to say, “Do you see when you said this? Do you know how much I needed to hear that right then, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear?” That doesn’t work in public, but what does is to make our best representations to the other people who read. I could write a note and say, “Kari, thanks for being a friend. When I was in a lot of shitty states in my life, you helped me hold my shit together, sometimes if only for another few hours.” That note says very little about you and a lot about me. Such a note would be very uninteresting. This one, I hope, has a bit more to say about a good friend who is a wife, a mother, and a librarian, among a number of other things.
In short: you listen, you believe, you encourage, and you make me care more about the words that I read and write. For all these things, I well and truly thank you. I just wish that I could do it in person, with a hug, before seeing Mike and your great kid. For now, this will have to do. Thanks for all these things, and thanks for the idea to do the writing. Here goes nothin’.