I say imaginary but of course you are, in fact, real. You even have a name, Ronald (D), but I have no idea what you look like, how old you are, or whether you have family who call by. I hope so.
All I know at this point is that you live on your own in the community, have a love of poetry and all things arty. I think we will get along just fine, Ronald, because I love these things too.
However, this will be the briefest of relationships, but please know that there are lots of us who care out there, beyond your four walls and I hope that my letter is the first of many you will receive in the future.
I know I will ponder about your expression upon receiving it, a nervous yet excited smile, or maybe even a whoop as you tear open the envelope? Will you read it straight away or settle down with a pot of warm, milky tea and a ginger biscuit to take your time? I wonder what you will think as you pour over the content, whether it was enough to warm your lonely heart?
You may assume this is a special treat just for you, Ronald, but no, you would be wrong. There is a small army building across Huddersfield and beyond, finding immense pleasure in letter writing to many people who are on their own. Together, we are collating positive and interesting things to say, carefully crafting letters to brighten people’s days.
Without knowing, you are giving us purpose too, an opportunity to help others in what has been the most difficult and strangest of times. We too, are craving connection and are hoping our chosen words, plus the things we add in to make the letters extra special, will bring joy, hope and an understanding that you are not alone.
I wonder if the poem I plan to include will see you digging out ones you used to write, or read in poetry books, to enjoy again? Perhaps you’ll even find a notebook and pen and spend a whole afternoon scribing a new one?
That would be the best gift, I think, time spent feeling inspired, sparking a new burst of creative energy to fill the hours, whilst we wait for life to return to some kind of normal.
I hear you like all things arty and I wonder whether you dabbled yourself? Perhaps you were a painter, fingers moving freely with expression when your hands didn’t feel so stiff or cold? Or maybe a fine-pointed pencil was your tool of choice, drawing portraits of family, friends, or strangers, absorbing their characteristics and the many years etched on their skin? If this were true, what a thrill it would have been to see your work.
I will tell you stories of my own to enrich your day, connected to your interests of course. I’ll explain about the creative cabin in the garden that we built in lockdown, where I’m typing your letter from right now, whilst a candle flickers and I listen to nature’s own music as I write. My fingertips tap the keyboard to a backdrop of the wall clock ticking, wood pigeons cooing, higher-pitched urgent song and the low bellowing of the cows up the lane, it’s quite a symphony to hear!
Inside the cabin, I’ll show you that I’m surrounded by my own experimental art; ink sketches of flowers and grasses, needlefelt landscapes, amateur water colours and precisely patterned birds in cheery shades.
This is my sanctuary, despite being the smallest part of the house and I suspect that your home has been your safe place during this time too. I wonder if soon you’ll be able to get out into a garden as the warmer days slide in?
I hope so, fresh air, flowers, and sunshine can make such a difference and hopefully a chat with the neighbours if you have them where you live.
The hardest part, I imagine, will be signing off my letter, saying goodbye and not ever meeting you, wondering if you are ok. I have to just trust that you are, and if you’re not, that you are getting the help that you need. I’m not adept at letting go, but have to trust the project and the process, and the excellent feedback on the website of Give a Few Words.
And so, Ronald (D) I will send you my letter with love and hope for brighter, less lonely days and with great admiration for the wonderful woman who came up with this brilliant idea. Here’s to many colourful, fascinating letters coming your way, greeted, I hope, by a smile and a twinkle in your eye.
Your friend, Juliet x
Note: Give a Few Words is a social enterprise project that co-ordinates and inspires volunteer writers to deliver positive, uplifting, one-off letters to lonely members of the community or those who live in care-homes. Set up to address loneliness in the pandemic, the project is going from strength to strength, and they are always on the look out for volunteers. If you enjoy writing letters and feel you could help, please visit their website: https://thegive.co.uk/.