What is it they say? “The pen is mightier than the sword” I mean yeah, there’s got to be something in that. Words are our communication, they are our thoughts, our intentions. They show our beliefs, who we are as people. If they didn’t matter, people wouldn’t die protecting them.
I mean, obviously I rate words, I write a blog for fuck sake! But I’ve been thinking about the written word more and more lately. One of the reasons being that I’ve started writing letters to strangers. Nope, I’m not losing it. These particular letters are collected and distributed by an organisation called From Me to You Letters. Alison started writing letters to her best friend Brian when he was undergoing chemotherapy. The letters acted as such an important part of Brian’s recovery that the pair set up the organisation to encourage others to write letters to loved ones facing cancer.
It’s a stroke of genius really. It can be fucking hard when someone has cancer. You never quite know the right words to say and once they are said, there’s no going back. Often, you end up not saying anything at all. I know there are things I wish I had said to my Mum when she was here, maybe a letter could have helped me with that? If only I’d thought of it. I realise not everyone is a gobshite like me who can waffle on about nothing for a few hundred words and luckily Alison and Brian realised that too! So they set up letter writing workshops to help people find the right words and it’s grown from there. They now offer the opportunity to write letters to strangers that go into the gift packs that The Lewis Foundation hand out every week to adult cancer patients in Northampton.
When I write a letter, I think about what the other person might like to read. It’s difficult of course, not knowing or ever meeting the recipient beforehand. What I’ve come to realise through this process is that if you break us all down onto a fundamental level, we are all the same. We have the same fears, same pain, same hopes and dreams. That’s the thing about cancer, it doesn’t discriminate and it effects us all in a similar way. Letter writing allows me to feel I am fighting this disease by giving the unknown reader a moment of relief that might help build their mental health in some tiny way. From experience I’ve seen what a strong mind can do against this disease. I guess I see the letters as little doeses of medicine that I can help create.
It can be hard and I do get emotional doing it. I think about my Mum a lot. But I also think about what I’d have liked her to receive. How happy a letter might have made her during a hospital stay. It doesn’t take me long to do. I normally get the felt tip pens out and make the cards look pretty. Basically because I’m a 34 year old child but I’m OK with that!
I’d love it if someone who read this blog decided to get involved but I know it isn’t for everyone and why should the readers in China (I see you by the way. Hiiiii!!!) write a letter for someone in little old Northampton? OK, so instead, can you just write a letter to someone you know? Tell them something you find too dificult to say out loud or tell them jokes or just tell them you love them. We make assumptions that people know what we think but they don’t always.
In this world, there can never be enough love spoken or written. Now, more than ever.
You know I like to practise what I preach so this is my little letter to you:
Thank you for reading this blog and anything else I might have written! I see that people are connecting with my words and it makes me happy. It has given me a sense of purpose. I love interacting with you and hearing your thoughts. It can be really scary putting my most vulnerable thoughts into the world but I’m glad they have helped, even just in that moment. You are incredible. You are uniquely you. There is no one on the planet like you and even if you’re having a shit time (which we all have) you’re smashing life right now and I’m proud of you.