It’s a clear plastic jar up on top of the shelf filled with scraps of paper, mostly white. Some are in envelopes, some are loose. But they’re all there. Every single one.
When I’m curled up in my bed because Dad yelled at me again and I haven’t started my 12-page paper, and I feel so alone that I am paralyzed, there is only one thing that can propel me to stand. I walk to the jar and pull one out. Sometimes, I just need a little one; a couple of words will do it, as long as they’re yours. But when it’s one of Those Nights and the world feels too big, too far away, and I dig my fingernails into my thighs just to feel something other than Too Much, I need more. I need a long one. Maybe the one that spans both sides of the legal-sized paper because that’s all you could find and you know how much I hate emptiness. Or maybe the one that starts “I’m writing because I don’t know what to say when I’m with you.” That’s one of my favorites.
But in the absolute worst of times, I always go for the first letter you ever wrote me.
It’s on a piece of card stock about the size of an index card. Your handwriting was the smallest I’ve ever seen it so that you could fill every square centimeter of both sides. You told me you loved me for the very first time. You told me you were scared. I was, too. You reminded me how our friendship started: with zombies and Taken and a phone call at midnight when I was sitting under my bed eating a brownie and trying not to cry. The next year flew by in seasons of Archer in corners of the library with sketchy Wifi, tickle fights that without fail ended in you falling out of your chair, tears, and hugs. Lots of hugs.
You are thousands of miles away, and it has been months since I have felt your arms around me, but your letters are the warmest hugs I can imagine. Reading your words is like feeling you all around me, feeling your hands in mine and your lips on my forehead and your voice in my ear. Your letters kiss away the pain that I didn’t know could leave. You make me happier than I knew I could be. And I love you more than I knew was possible. I do not know how to sufficiently thank you for that.