An open letter to a friend..

Dear D.C.

It was early in 1984 and my mind was occupied with thoughts of Germany, my next assignment. Having completed flight school, the Army was going to extract its payment…..my service was required in Germany. I was to fly attack helicopters, gunships, in support of the deterrent mission.

The airliner was at thirty thousand feet winging its way across the Atlantic headed for England….Gatwick I suppose. I was trying to relax a little; there were a lot of hours in front of me. I reclined my seat a little trying to get comfortable but it wasn’t really possible. Standing up, I turned and bumped into someone who was returning to their seat behind me. I apologized for my clumsiness and stood there enthralled. You were young, and pretty, and so very polite. Introductions complete, we settled into our seats and immediately drifted into a comfortable conversation. I discovered a lot about you. You were English, returning home from the United States. You lived in Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees. You were busy thinking about your future, and worrying, I guess, about things that all young women contemplate at that age. You spoke quite elegantly I thought and were not afraid to talk about things that were important to you. More importantly, you were a good listener. We talked and laughed and enjoyed the company on that long flight.

Arriving back in the United States later, I was impressed to receive a letter from you. I had sent you a postcard or two from Germany but hadn’t really expected an answer. You were as busy as ever but just as willing to talk. You told me about your life and how you had settled back into a routine at home. I think you were anxious to get on with your life. I wrote back to you and told you some of my experiences. You were always polite, and interested in what I had to say.

Christmas, 1984. Another letter….and a Christmas card. You were seeing a young British serviceman. You seemed happy and life was good. Trials and tribulations though….there were always things to think about and problems to overcome. I never doubted that you would find what you were looking for……happiness, I suppose.

Letters were infrequent, but neither of us had forgotten. Things were always in the way…..some pressing matter to attend to. 1987 now….midyear I guess. Another letter from you has tracked me down. I am at Ft. Bragg when your latest missive arrives. Same cheerful attitude and another wonderful long story to read. You always seemed to be doing the things I wanted to do. This time it was a tentative trip to New Zealand. You had your reasons, and your plans. I knew only that I wanted to do those things too. I never found out how that trip turned out. Was it fun? Did you find a job there or just visit? I still want to know…..

The truth is, I have missed your letters. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was just time. Maybe it was time for both of us to get on with our lives. Time to make a clean break with the past and forge a new future. I suppose that is what has happened. Time…..

My wish for you is fulfillment and understanding. I hope that you have a caring, loving person as a partner in this life. I hope you have experienced the joy of children. I hope that you have found joy in your life wherever you are. And I hope you are well…..There isn’t much else worth talking about.

Your friend,

Howard  
 
 

So, why now? Why after twenty-five years? That’s an easy one. I was cleaning out a safe drawer yesterday and found this bundle of letters. I knew they were there of course, but hadn’t looked at them in many years. Why did I keep them? I am not sure. I guess because these moments, hidden in old letters and pictures are important. They are important because they help define who we were, and who we have become. In any event, I will re-read them and look at the pictures. Then back they go into the safe–just moments captured in time.

 
 
 
Comments welcome…

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17 thoughts on “An open letter to a friend..

  1. Well, here I am folks…. the missing DC…. and Howard managed to locate me (still living at the same address) twenty-five years later!

    I received a lovely hand-written letter from Howard, in April this year. I was at work at the time and received a call from my daughter, asking if I knew a ‘Howard’ who lives in America… and went on to give me the third degree… before telling me that he’d written. I couldn’t wait to get home that evening, reading his letter over and over again.

    My daughter forced me into replying to Howard quicker than I would normally do (hey, I’m a busy girl), so I drafted a long (albeit disjointed) email the next day. Within hours I had a reply… and replied back to that email within a week. We promised each other we wouldn’t lose touch again.

    For some reason (over four months later) I’m still waiting to hear back from Howard….. I sent a brief email a few days ago to see where he is, but no reply. Last night, I decided to see if I could look him on online, as he’d told me previously that he’d mentioned me in an open letter on his blog. That’s when I came across this wonderful little site…. and read the open letter to me (and yes, he’d remembered me vividly!).

    However, it’s been sometime since Howard posted anything here…. and now I’m very worried.

    Are any of Howard’s readers close enough to let me know if he is ok? If he is healthy and well?

    A very worried DC :o(

    • Hello again!! Yes, healthy and well. I have since written to you (email..) several times….hope you have received them. Thank you for taking the time to look up my blog—-And for commenting here!! I was shocked to see the message from WordPress in my email inbox that someone had responded to this ‘open letter’. I immediately dropped everything and went directly to my blog to see who had commented. Imagine my surprise when I found you here!!

      I have a few fairly loyal readers and a lot of others who drop by about as frequently as I drop by their blogs….sometimes quite frequently, sometimes not so much so. The ones who commented here on this blog post will probably be interested in knowing that we have once again made contact with each other. I was truly disheartened for several years after trying with no luck to find you electronically. When I posted this letter, several readers encouraged me to continue……and so I did!!! Isn’t it amazing that in this world of ‘instant gratification’, social media, networking, and all manner of communication, that the one thing that did NOT fail was old-fashioned ‘buy a postage stamp and write a letter long-hand’..!!! I am so shocked (and so happy!!) that this worked that I still find it almost incomprehensible…..

      By this time you should have received several emails from me and there are more to come. I am also planning a new blog post to update this one, and to further encourage others to act—like they did for me!

      I feel truly blessed!
      Howard

    • You know, there are a lot of folks out there who fit into this same mold. It can never hurt to make an attempt.!
      Good Luck!!

      Oh, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate it.!
      H.

    • Hi Ralph…Thanks for commenting. I have tried on several occasions. I never really thought much about how to locate someone before trying this….It is not an easy thing to do. The typical things have yielded no results. So many places in this world where a person could be…it makes my head hurt!!! With all of the social media, it is undoubtedly easier than it was twenty years ago, but names are so common and so widespread…..Maybe on my next trip to England I will try to find her old address, or maybe her parents are still alive..?? Who knows?? Not me…that’s for certain!!
      Howard

        • Sort of….I think the real problem is I don’t know what her married name is…I am assuming…..
          Ancestry has been of little help…..And I know absolutely NOTHING about Britain’s methodologies for capturing data. Census?? Driver License?? Voter Registration?? Tax rolls?? Property ownership records?? Citizenship records?? ID numbers??

    • Thanks so much for the kind words!! I think you nailed the feelings….I wonder what happened..?? I wonder where she is and how she is doing..?? Did her dreams…plans…work out like she hoped..?? I think all of us experience things like this….always wondering..??
      Howard

    • Thank you! Me too….It is interesting to look back on things like this. I really would like to know where she is and how she is doing. Interesting woman and interesting stories……At least it seemed like it back then.!!
      H.

  2. What a beautiful letter you wrote Howard. So sensitive and personal. I could feel your connection with that woman through the words that filled the page. Just lovely!

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