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To My Sweet Mr. "L"

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Beneath a pile of unwanted mail I find my letter from Mr. “L”. Will he tell me a story of his wife, of his childhood, WWII, or perhaps lend me encouragement? No matter how the letter begins, it will always end the same- with love.

I came to know Mr. “L” at work. He would skip into the bank, giving me a bright smile. “How are you today?” I would ask. “Oh, good for nothing, but good’s in there somewhere.” he would reply. As short as our meetings were, they always pulled me closer to Mr. “L”.

Mr. “L” had begun to remind me of my great-grandfathers. I’d known them for only a short time, yet their mannerisms and attitude towards life remained in my memory. I found that I was no longer looking at Mr. “L” as a customer, but as a friend. I was sorry to see him hide away during the holiday season. I was more upset to learn that he lived alone. His wife had passed away and he had no children. I wondered if he knew just how special he was. My heart ached at the thought that anyone as special as Mr. “L” might leave this world never knowing how strong an impact he had made on those around him.

I knew that I could never voice just how I felt about him, but I could write him a letter telling him thank you. Fear of how he might react worried me at first. Eventually I realized that the entire purpose in my letter was to let him know how I felt before I lost the chance. One afternoon, with a quick prayer, I slid the note to him beneath his receipt. To my great relief, Mr. “L” loved the letter and admitted that he, too, had felt a special bond between us.

It’s been over a year since I wrote that first letter. I can’t recall how many envelopes have passed between Mr. “L” and I since. I frown now more than ever before when I consider how the art of letter writing is quickly becoming an act of the past. With certainty I must announce that within just a few short pages, it is still possible for two individuals to converse just as easily as if we were sitting across from one another over a cup of coffee. Our words are our own; made more special by being written in our personals hands. There are no rules to adhere to when we consider the endless topics to share with one another. When we don’t speak of movies and books, Mr. “L” tells me of his life and I tell him of mine. We share memories, hopes, and sometimes our fears. We have no need to ask for the other’s attention or encouragement, they are willingly leant to one another.

Before our letters, I considered myself a very quiet person. I knew then, as I know now, that I am a very personal person. My lack of “adventure” has never helped me to start conversation. As a young adult, I am aware of the constant effort to put forth my best step in this world. This includes socializing and making friends. I once feared that I may never be capable of sharing in another’s life or opening up my own. Mr. “L” changed my way of thinking. Our meeting has been nothing less than a blessing. It is through our bond that I have realized I am capable of entering into a multitude of friendships as long as I am willing to open up and take that first step.

When I took a new job in October, it was in a letter that I shared with Mr. “L” my many hopes of the future. Excitement flowed through every word as I imagined the smile that would come to his face when he read the good news. His sweet reply and encouragement found their way to me soon afterwards, assuring me our friendship would not come to an end. While we can no longer trade envelopes over the counter, we do have something to look for in the mail.

It once seemed impossible to build a relationship with someone I saw so little. It is amazing how strong a bond a pen and paper have allowed me to build, however. I have gained not only a penpal, but a true friend. It is through letters that Mr. “L” and I are allowed to share in each other’s lives.

I encourage everyone to look around them for the Mr. and Ms. “L”s in their life. Perhaps you have more to share with someone than a polite smile and quick “hello”. Maybe the person you need to connect with is a complete stranger. There are wonderful letter-writing programs (especially for our soldiers) that can be found on the internet.

Writing that first letter seemed like a daunting task at first. A letter is personal. I am opening up to someone when I sit down to write- whether it is with a pen or a keyboard. Letters are not about handwriting or typing skills however. They are about building a relationship. Letters are evidence that someone cares about you. Someone appreciates you for your attitude, your work, or your friendship. It saddens me to think what I would miss if I didn’t appreciate a good letter. After all, I never could have known the friend I have found in Mr. “L” if it had not been for taking a chance on a letter.

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