As a little girl, I was fascinated with words. The way they came alive on a page, spoke to me. So in Mrs. Lanaham’s 2nd grade class when I first laid eyes on Darryl, a small brown curly headed boy, I knew I was in love; and he needed to know.
That was more than 40+ years ago, and I’ve been fascinated with love letters ever since. There is something magical about expressing your most cherished thoughts in a way that hastens your heart.
How sacred a time it once was during medieval to early modern days when letters were not only a pastime, but an essential form of communication. Something that has become passé with the transcendence of technology and time. Rarely do we write anything nowadays without the click of a mouse, the tap of board, or hastily glued to a shiny electronic device.
That is why I was intrigued with the idea of writing the letters that became the heart and soul of A Life Apart.
A Life Apart is the story of a forbidden love that culminated with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and spanned World War II through the Civil Rights movement to present day.
It was truly a labor of love to craft the untethered devotion between Morris (a white sailor) and Beatrice (a young black woman) and do it against the backdrop of a raging and terrible war. The words came easy, from deep within the most sacred and sensitive places of my heart. I understood what Morris and Beatrice must have felt, despite my resistance to utter anything that would dishonor such a delicate and daunting time.
Opening the floodgates—that divine tunnel where words flowed, feelings emerged and love spawned—reminds me of that eight-year-old little girl that sat dreamingly in Mrs. Lanaham’s class and crafted the letter that ultimately nabbed Darryl. I felt my own heart open to an expression and a great appreciation for something that has since drifted and left our world shallow.
There is simply something about love letters that slows us, makes us connect in a way that coalesces our hearts.
So for those lucky few who cling to chivalry, I say kudos to you. And for those of us that have forgotten the essence of the truest form of expression, I say write a love letter, even if only to yourself.
Congrats to Cecilee S., Logann W., Mark V., Terri S., Joe D. and 195 other members of the Read It Forward community! Their entries were selected at random to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of A Life Apart by L.Y. Marlow.
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L.Y. Marlow’s previous novel was a big favorite among RIFers. Check out The Strength of Four Generations of Mothers and Daughters in Color Me Butterfly.