I regularly write letters to the future, selecting a date and then adding a reminder to read the letter at the designated time. I usually write to myself, but occasionally I address someone else. I wrote this letter to my Mom last year on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018 to be read this year on mother’s day, May 12, 2019. To read other “Letters to Future Self,” click here:
It has been a long time since I spoke to you; a long time since we sat together on the porch in the evening light and shared our stillness. There is so much I never thought to ask you; so much I neglected to do. As I slowly bridge the gap between my age and yours at the time of your passing, I realize there are so many things you can only know in the heart.
Although I never saw or heard you pray, I recall how you loved the image of praying hands. If we were sitting there now, I would ask you, “why that image is so compelling to you?” Perhaps your answer would weave memories of your childhood: of a lively dinner table surrounded by siblings and visiting friends on thanksgiving day. Or a night bowed before your bed, whispering wishes under your breath afraid your hidden desire would hit the ears of your sisters who would haunt you with their knowledge. Or maybe you would speak of those first years far away from your roots when your life took a drastic turn and you longed to go home.
For me, just the image of praying hands from the Albrecht Durer painting you hung on the wall, evokes you. Perhaps you had particular words you recited, a kind of ritual you could always remember, even after you laid down the cross and put the old fire and brimstone records back in the sleeve on the shelves of your past. Because for you, it was always personal, it was about the people in your life. I don’t know how easy it was for you to speak to a god that wasn’t flesh and blood.
I now believe the praying hands, floating in space, gave you a solace that can only come from that place where beyond and within are one. Under all the layering of life, under the build-up of worry, the grip of guilt, and the sorrow of flattened dreams, they were your own hands; the hands that never lost faith, that remained pure and simple, and that forever held precious your praying heart. Now that you have transcended, stepped beyond all the grave issues of this life, and no shame can come to you, I imagine us sitting there on the porch, in a moment of silence between us and, in that shared stillness, our two spirits touch, like grateful hands praying.
If you were free to speak from the heart to your mother, what would you say to her or ask her? This is the beauty of writing: it gives you the freedom to say what you need to say or to imagine what is in the heart of another, even if the person is no longer with you.