Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I feel like I'm living in a novel, anticipating the ending, but afraid to reach it...and find out what?  AND .....it's my own life that I'm reading about.

In the archeological process of digging through 55 years & 3 generations of accumulation in my home, I found a pack of letters.  There are 20 or more big, fat letters from 1961  I was barely 18 years old, studying for finals in preparation of my high school graduation

Some letters are 12 pages long.  I vaguely knew they they were there.  Living in a house for so long - I rarely felt the pressure to toss out, however now that I'm in the process of moving, I have decisions to make each day.  Sell, keep, toss, donate to thrift stores or give to friends, family, etc. (my family does not want anything)

Back to the letters.  They are from PFC Michael P. H......., US Marine.  At first, I  read 3 or 4 letters in quick succession & tossed them into the bathroom trash.  I felt proud of myself.  Good!  I got rid of something.  Hooray.  But then I got to thinking....he was writing in such depth & detail & he....the marine, the young man on the other side of time and history began to rise up like the image in a photographers pan of chemicals.  Before I left that evening, I went on Facebook.  I thought if I could find him, I would send him the letters.  I thought of it as returning a piece of his life & memories to him....a gift of himself to him.  There was only one FB match that seemed age-appropriate & I sent a note.  No response.

That evening at a wedding showcase, I spoke with Donna re: my emotional process of moving & spoke of the letters...those I threw out & those I had not yet read.  She was so excited about my letters & my relationships that went so far back in my life.  She wanted to hear more - she wanted me to update her.  "Please don't throw them out....how little space they will take up in your new home". We exchanged emails.  Now I couldn't wait to get home & remove those I had read  from the trash.

I re-read them.  Slowly this time.  I re-read them again.  Savoring the details.  The importance of someones life.  The gift I was given with each word & image.  It is 5 days later & I read one or 2 in bed before I fall asleep each night. There was a love story unfolding.  There was history & tragedy.  There was humor & sweetness as he described the soggy details of jumping into the sea to retreive my letter that had blown out of his hand.  "I got it before the glue melted on the stamp."  At times he described how he was the only one choosing to stay on ship as the others were on liberty leave.  He would write to me at 2, 3, or 5 am. 'til he could no longer keep his eyes open.  He counted the days 'til he would hear my voice or return to Great Neck.  He signed his letters "Sayonara, with all my growing love, Mike."  "If I can see you, even if it's for just for a day, Suzi, all the long days and the sleepless nights will have been worth it. But until then, there are 25 days and nights and they'll be the longest days and nights I'll probabally ever see.  I'd gladly go thru the hell of the past 2 months one-hundred times over again and twice as bad, just to hear the sound of your voice right here this minute.  A lot of guys would have made it back if they had someone to live for.  I did.  I realize my being here is because someone wanted me to be here.  I did what you told me to do in your letter.  I "took care of me for you."  If it weren't for you, I know positively I'd be "back there" along with many of my best buddies."

My friend Ellen told me this discovery is more valuable than 20 years of therapy.  I agree.  What a view of myself.  How blessed I was to have such sweetness come into my life.  He described me as I, the 18 year old, could never have seen myself at that time.  This discovery is history-changing for me.  My spirit did attract goodness. 

I have about 5 letters left.  I will read them slowly.  I don't want this story to end.  I don't really remember how it did end.  I hope I was kind.  If, perhaps I was not...I hope to forgive my 18 year old self for any hurt I may have caused.

Speaking with Vicky at a dance Friday night, I spoke of moving (of course, that's what I always speak of these days) & "the Letters".  Another interested party wanting updates.  At Vicky's suggestion - I once again related a version to Caroline who is a genealogist & happened to be at the dance. For some reason, I hesitated to email the data I had garnered from the letters to her...but did 3 days later.  I think I was (am) afraid to know the end of the story?  However, she emailed back within a few hours (last night).  She found an address in Ct & a phone number listed in his brother Joe's name.  How did she do that so fast??  And now I hesitate to call the number or write to the address she has found. 

I think I will wait & read one more letter before I call.  Am I afraid that I will reach him....or that I will not?

1 comment:

Michèle Hastings said...

what a lovely story... i can't wait to read more. so glad that you decided to keep the letters.