I’m writing a fictional love letter for a wedding show today. It’s a fun little job for a dear friend (Christine Smart of Smart Events) who is the mastermind behind a brilliant destination collective, called appropriately, the Victoria Wedding Collective. I am smiling to myself because I am writing as a man to a woman. I go into my own archives for inspiration to sift through the best love letters (yes, I keep them, and you should keep yours too). What made them great? What made them bypass judgement, doubt, insecurities, fear or obstacles and zip straight into my heart like a well-sharpened arrow?
Timing is a big part of it. Too soon and you aren’t ready for the weighty words, too late and well, it’s too late and no one is bothering to read your pithy letter. Sincerity of voice–very important quality. Too saccharine and I don’t believe you, too reserved and I’m not emotionally invested. Language. The ultimate measure of a good love letter is the language. Now, I’m not referring to grammar but rather the secret language between you and your loved one. That is what makes love so special after all , that certain little bubble you both inhabit where you have your secret language only you know. When you can speak to one another in this way then that is when great love letters are written. They could be a small note on a pillow. In a pocket. Or tweet even but it has to be in your secret language that is spoken to no other.
I have an old scrapbook of my mother’s and in it are her dance-cards from the 40’s. There’s one with a little note on it that says, ‘Until the next dance my dear, J. xo‘. My mother once admitted to me, not long before she died, that she had desperately loved a man named Jack before she met my father. She went on in a sort of reverie, describing a time they rode a rollercoaster and how it felt at the top, laughing and holding his hand and I was taken aback as I watched her eyes that had wandered far back in time to a love that meant so much to her. I was shocked because my mother was such a stalwart supporter of my father all my life. It was like a door had opened to a storyworld of a different woman in a different life. Sadly, Jack died in the war and I think my mother likely never entirely repaired from it. This small note was all that was left of their love story and I treasure it. Of course I’m thankful she met my father, but this small secret world of hers and Jack’s is inspiring me to as I write this letter for my friend’s show. I think it could blossom into a longer narrative.
Love letters contain our hearts, with small, hopeful sails on them, sent off to sea with our deepest desire that they reach the shore. Sometimes they do. In my letters, I think they will.