Do you remember the days before email, Facebook and Twitter?  I’m so old, I remember the days before PCs!  These amazing changes have occurred in the days since I attended college, some 25 to 30 years ago.

My college years were precious letter-writing years.  I have a huge box full of letters in the attic.  It was my first time away from home so my parents, Grandma, my loving siblings , cousins and a few friends would write to me.  I cherished those letters at the time and cherish the memories they preserve now.

This past summer I lost an old friend in a tragic car accident.  I had lost touch with her so I went up in the attic to see if we had written during college.  We hadn’t.  But I found one amazing piece of wrapping paper she made with all of our high school memories written on it.

I found the letters my dad wrote to me – often scribbled on little post-it size notes.  I loved that my dad wrote me his own, personal letters.  (I loved the money he would stash in there, too!)   Mom often typed her letters since her lefty, shaky hands maker her writing illegible.

My best friend growing up would write “books” to me.  Long, funny letters – usually about the men in her life.  I wrapped up all those letters and gave them to her for her 40th birthday!

And then I came upon this stash.  Yes, I knew her before she was a famous blogger:  Sarah, of Clover Lane.

Recently, I sent her these amazing letters that she wrote me so many years ago!

I attended an all-girls Catholic high school.  There was an elementary school up the hill – both schools taught by the lovely Sisters of Notre Dame.  When I was a senior attending retreat, I received a beautiful note from a 6th grader at the elementary school.  That 6th grader was Sarah.

I don’t know if I had the original note, but I’m sure she said that she would pray for me.  In those days, a nice note always deserved a note in return.  And so, a type of pen-pal friendship was born.  Remember, we were six years apart, but a true friendship developed between an emerging young adult and a quiet, shy, young girl.

We both loved rainbows and shared lots of them through the years.  Perhaps a sign of our optimism.

I loved the drawings and surprises I would find.  Even her mom would jot a note down on the flap on occasion!

Sarah had beautiful handwriting – can anyone write like that today?  She would describe things so eloquently.  I remember the first time I went to her amazing log house in the woods. For a city girl, this was really the woods! 

She even wrote a poem for me….

Rainbows are a special thing,
they travel through the sky
bringing hope to every person
who happens to be walking by.
The world needs hope and so do I
everybody does.
So rainbows are a special gift,
given to us by God.
For some people rainbows do nothing
for others everything,
but for you and me they do
something that is very hard to explain.
So rainbows are important,
as important as can be
for bringing hope to everyone,
including you and me.

Isn’t she beautiful?  These photos were probably 6th and 7th grade, around 11 to 12 years old. 

I read the letters and wonde
red if I could give them up.  A flood of memories came over me.

What I learned about Sarah that is still true today:

– she is eloquent
– she has loving parents and a beautiful family
– school was a challenge for her sometimes; she studied hard
– she prayed for me – a lot!  I think that’s what got me through college!
– she isn’t a huge fan of winter
– she is creative
– she is sweet and kind

What I learned about me:

– I struggled my first semester in college
– I am committed
– I am Sarah’s Confirmation sponsor.  I feel terrible that this fact had slipped my mind.  I think that her mother stood in proxy for me because I was away at college.
– I enjoyed my time with Sarah.

I was the youngest of six kids who grew up in the city.  Sarah was from a family of five kids who lived in the country.  We were an interesting pair and it was easy to see that “the grass was greener” on the other side.  I longed for her quiet lifestyle.

Since I had no younger siblings, she even came to visit me at college for “Little Sibling Weekend.”  I look back and wonder how we organized events before email and cell phones!  Well, often we wrote letters!  We would suggest dates and times and then we would follow up with phone calls.  Today, our children create Facebook events to plan get-togethers!  Yes, it is a different world.

Somewhere along the way, our letter-writing stopped.  Perhaps it was when I started working and then Sarah was heading off to college.  I have not seen her for 20+ years, which is hard to imagine because I feel like I’ve known her forever.  Somehow we found each other again – whether through Christmas cards or email and, of course, her beautiful blog.

Now we email on occasion.  It’s amazing how I look to her for advice and support on family issues.  It’s amazing how two quiet, shy girls grew up to be strong, opinionated mothers!

Thank you, Sarah, for being a beautiful friend.