Saturday, July 24, 2010


There are angels among us.

On some level I probably already believed this, but so many of the letters I've written as part of The Letter Jar project have made it ever the more clear.

Such was the case with R, to whom I wrote today. Some 18 years ago R advertised for a roommate, and that roommate ended up being my mother during my parents' separation. (My parents ended up remarrying a few years later.)

Now I realize in some ways it was seemingly by "chance" that mom ended up living with you, but really I do believe things happen for a reason. Yes, my mom just needed a place to live. But she also needed--maybe not as urgently but just as importantly--a friend. And she found one in you. Thank you for being there to listen to mom, to offer feedback and be a support a very uncertain time in her life. You were an angel.

I recalled to R how she became my friend and angel as well when I stayed with her and mom during Christmas break from college that year.

I was a fresh mess--reeling from my parents splitting up, facing the end of college with no real post-graduation plans, and coming apart at the seams over my feelings for my "ex but wished he wasn't ex" boyfriend R. (Who would become my husband 14 years later--who knew?) You were a good listener and comforting support. You were also a dose of perspective--you urged me to look past the details, all the gory details, of that exact moment and realize it would all turn out OK someday. And damned if you weren't right.

I told R that when I began The Letter Jar project, I just started writing down person after person I've known throughout my life, and figured that when I went to write each letter, my feelings for that person would emerge.

I've been so pleasantly delighted how much that has been true--with the gift of perspective I have realized how many angels have truly appeared in my life, offering me support and guidance and teaching me lessons I've needed to learn.

It is indeed true, so many angels. S, the friend who just happened to need a roommate when I separated from my first husband. D, a woman who happened to be dating my future brother-in-law when I moved to Chicago, who became my friend and offered me support I barely recognized I needed as I struggled to settle into a new life. S, yet another roommate--this one my husband's--who was there with right words at the right moment.

I'm thinking about these wonderful people and so many others who have been my angels when it hits me: is it just possible that I could unknowingly be someone's angel, "just happening to show up" when they need it? It makes me think of the oft-repeated words of Plato: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

When you stop to think about it, is there someone in your life who was your angel? Have you ever thanked him or her?

I HAVE TO TRY THIS: A number of letter-writing bloggers rave about Postcrossing, "The Postcard Crossing Project" which just celebrated its fifth anniversary of linking people and their places worldwide. Notes the Postcrossing team: "The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises - and who wouldn't like that?" Indeed!


Love from Kaz said...

Lovely post... you've got me thinking now about the 'angels' in my own life.

I'm one of those fans of postcrossing. I was dubious at first, but when you get your first random postcard out of your letter-box... well, it's just very cool and very addictive.

The Missive Maven said...

Postcrossing is great fun. Some of the postcards are bummers, but some are real gems, and I love the serendipity of it. If you send postcards through that site with regularity, then you will certainly get a lot of postcards in return!

Stephanie said...

This almost (almost!) has me wanting to do a similar project. What a great way to honor the people who have helped you through your life.

Lynn, The Jar Keeper said...

Thanks for the comments.

@Love from Kaz and @The Missive Maven: I'm afraid to commit to another mail project like Postcrossing, but I'm so tempted. I love to travel and love to learn about new places--this totally geeks me.

@Stephanie: I'm touched that you are inspired. This has been a truly transformative project.