Alexandra's Notebook

You've Got Mail

I was reading Veronique's post this afternoon, Just A Small Town Girl, and smiled at her lovely doodles. But there was one that caught my eye and then, brought a lump to my throat. It featured a stamp and the words, Post Air Mail. And it hit me. I hadn't had any real mail from anyone (not including birthday or Christmas cards) not since my mum passed back in 1999.

It sent a shiver down my spine not just because that was over 20 years ago, but because, the last handwritten letter I ever got, was from a dead woman: my mother.

Where ever I was in the world, travelling and or working, my mother almost religiously took time out of her day to write an aerogramme to me. Do you remember those? You buy them at any post office, singularly or in packs. I think my mother had a draw full of them—after all, she had six kids and if she wrote to me, you can be sure as hell, she wrote to us all at some point or other.

The thing is. The last piece of mail she wrote to anyone, was to me. She wrote to me, as she always did, on a Friday, so she could catch the last post. That last letter she wrote, was duly posted on a Friday and, would you believe, the following Monday, here in Quebec, I got two shocks.

The first came very early Monday morning when my brother Neil phoned me from the UK to tell me the devastating news. My mother, who had had a stroke Sunday and been rushed into hospital, had died from a further massive stroke early Monday morning.

I think I collapsed into a chair unable to move let alone speak, and handed the phone to my partner. I was at their parents house, visiting. I don't remember much after that. The day was mostly a fog, as I tried to get my head around the fact my mother was gone, and that I'd never see her again, let alone hear her voice.

While I was trying to process this someone in the family had gone out to the mailbox up the road, and brought back the family mail and the usual flyers. In there was that familiar deep blue of a flimsy aerogramme. Someone handed it to me and I remember staring at it for a good few minutes.

It was then that the dam burst, and I sobbed like I have never sobbed before. I was holding a letter from a dead women, written not a few days before her passing.

It took me several days before I would open the letter to read my mum's last words to me. And still have it to this very day, a treasure worth more than any mountain of money. And yes, I'm quietly crying as I type up this post to share with you, not in sadness, but in joy. Joy that I got something most people never get when they lose a loved one like this. I got her last words to me, forever enshrined in a letter. However simple those words might be, talking about her day, as if we were sat together on the couch drinking a cuppa.

Thank you for that, Mum, you will never know how much those last few words have meant to me over all these years, and how in my own difficult times, they have helped lift me when I needed them the most. I still miss you, mum.

With love,
your daughter Alex