How emails and letters become part of our life stories

Our Correspondence And Our Life Stories

Seventh in a series exploring the relationship between individuals, memories and memorials. For more information, please visit www.echoleft.com_

It was just this week that I packed up my holiday cards. I know, I know — it’s been a month since Christmas. I did pack away my Christmas decorations weeks and weeks ago, I swear! But cards to me are more than decorations — they’re messages from friends and family, and why would I want to pack messages away in a box just because I’m packing away stockings and ornaments?

Because I keep their stories, the stories of people I love become part of my story.

If you’ve guessed that I’m the type of person who saves birthday and holiday cards, you’re absolutely right. It might be sentimental of me, but I save postcards and letters and emails too. Not perfunctory notes and emails, not anything anyone’s ever written to me. No, I save the personal messages, the ones where someone I care about has taken a few minutes out of their busy life and written something they want me to know about. A message might be long or short; serious or irreverent. I hold on to these little life stories that other people send me, and because I care about the people, because I keep their stories, the stories of people I love become part of my story.

My mother lives across an ocean. I talk to her on the phone, which is wonderful, but when she writes me an email or send me a letter, I don’t have to rely on my memory to know what we’ve talked about. I can take a letter out of its envelope and read it as many times as I like. If my mother is at work or asleep or on holiday, I can read her last email and write a response and still feel like we’re communicating. We are, of course.

I share pieces of my life with the people I care about, and become part of their stories.

I don’t email as often as I should, as often as I want to, but I still feel as if someone poking around in my email account would be able to tell how important a part of my life she is. I write part of my story with every postcard or letter or email I send, every message I keep.

Echoleft is a place where we can collect all of the stories that make up our lives. We can save anecdotes and documents, memos and messages. If you’re dealing with a difficult time, you can start a private diary and keep it to yourself forever, or share it with your friends and family so that they can support you. Your Echoleft is always as public or as private as you want to make it.

The people I write to, and the people who write to me, are inevitably part of my life story. I write my own stories too, when I reply to these cards and notes and emails. I share pieces of my life with the people I care about, and become part of their stories. On that note, I’m pretty sure I owe my mother an email….