Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Unopened Letter

From the NY Times article
Last weekend the New York Times published a beautiful essay called “The Unopened Letter.” One day a friend gave the author a letter. A letter from his mother who had been dead for seven years. The letter had been misplaced when the author was training to be a pilot; the story is irrelevant here (but interesting!).

The question became: should he open the letter? Of course it would be wonderful to have the experience of hearing his dear mother’s voice coming through a letter one more time. But then that experience would be over and done for the rest of his life.

The author says he has had the letter now two years and still hasn’t opened it.
For now it’s enough to look at the blue stick-figure airplane my mom drew on the envelope. To emphasize the word “airmail,” of course, but surely the angle of the climbing jet’s nose is jauntier than necessary, except perhaps for an aspiring pilot. For now it’s enough to look at her handwriting, at my name in her hand, and to remember that until I open it, I know I’ll hear from her once more.
Some of his friends say they’d have torn the envelope open immediately. Others say they understand why he’s left it unopened.
I understand. I am so blessed: I have 52 hours of Arthur and I talking with each other. These are episodes of our A Question Of Meaning TV show, which we recorded over the course of a year, five years ago. Watching them is a bittersweet joy. So far this year I’ve watched 21 episodes and uploaded them to YouTube, but I’m already feeling the reluctance to finish. Once I’ve watched them all, there will be no new video of Arthur to watch. 
I described this to a friend as the ‘strange logic of grief.’ Things that seem right to me now would have made no sense to me before.

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