Our Story Continues
September 11, 2001 changed the world in a different way. My son's concern after the Twin Towers fell was, "some little boys mommy made him go up there to see the view today"..... The world watched and wept.
Almost 8 weeks later a postcard arrived from Dee. She had sent it on her way back to England with a window of time for me to write to her. But the mail had taken so long to arrive that the window had opened and closed. Rather than accidentally cause her an issue, I did nothing. Christmas came and went and 2002 rolled in.
My birthday 2002 approached without the angst and sadness of previous years and I was thrilled when flowers arrived to help me celebrate the day. A beautiful bouquet with the message "Thinking of you with love and affection". I thanked my husband for them but he hadn't sent them. I called his mother to see if they were from her, but no. I called mom to see if she sent them, after all I was the "best anniversary present ever", they weren't from her either. It was my husband who suggested that maybe Dee had sent them. Hmmmmmm how to respond to that given her instructions not to send anything without a signal from her that the coast was clear. I finally decided to send flowers at Christmas. I waited until early December then found a florist in her area on-line and sent a beautiful centerpiece for the table. I included a card with the exact same message "Thinking of you with love and affection". I decided that if Dee had sent my birthday flowers, she would know immediately who sent the centerpiece but if she hadn't, we were in the same boat, two people who had received flowers with no clue where they had come from.
January 2003 brought my next letter. The centerpiece had arrived in time for her birthday. A tiny little clue about a woman I knew nothing about. She liked it so much she had substituted the Christmas greenery with silk so she could keep it.
And so began our story. Flowers for the next couple of years, then a beautiful silver ring which fit perfectly, followed by lovely personal cards/letters, more pictures, and small gifts. I, in return sent Christmas/Birthday gifts and family updates which would be replied to in January. It was such an amazing thing. Lifetimes shared in written form. Pieces unfolded in unexpected ways. My son shared his birthday with her father, we enjoyed the arts and had similar likes and style. Each letter arrived with photos and one showed just how similar we were. On completely different sides of the world, we had each purchased an article of clothing in the same animal print. Not similar, exactly the same. A leopard print in a diagonal pattern on a cream back ground, mine a long skirt and hers a pair of flowy pants. Makes one really think about the whole nature vs nurture conversation.
5 years in, I decided to make Dee a scrape book. Knowing that my mom was still not comfortable with the whole thing, I didn't include my childhood, choosing to start instead with my wedding picture (first marriage) and build out a page for every year after. A scrape book that chronologically built a complete look of my life from 1981 to 2004. Turns out it arrived the same week her mother (my grandmother) passed away. Dee had gone from being an only child with no living blood relatives to a mother and grandmother of three when she needed the connection most. She said she looked at the book every day and it helped knowing that she really wasn't alone in the world.
Time stops for no man, and life kept us busy. In 2005 I became a grandmother and Dee a "great grandmother" so I sent a baby album. The Birthday/Christmas/January routine continued for years.
In 2008 my first husband and I divorced and on New Years Eve 2009 I remarried. Dee got letters about all of it. My kids all graduated and with my new husband Michael, travel became a favorite thing to do. In 2011 we both turned 50 and along with close friends who also turned 50 that year, we decided the four of us would start taking a major trip a year. Together we explored France, Italy, Greece, and then in 2014 we planned a cruise to the Canary Islands beginning and ending in South Hampton, England.
When I received my birthday present that year, Mike asked me if I was going to let Dee know I would be in England. The thought scared me. Dee and I had a good thing going. Would trying to actually meet cause her to back away? I wrote a thank you note for my gift and added that we were going to be in London that fall. Did she want to meet? If she didn't I would completely understand and to not feel pressured to do something if she would rather not. I included my cell phone number and Mikes in case she wanted to call. Then I addressed the card and put it on the kitchen counter. I could not bring myself to mail it. It sat for days until I handed it to a friend as she was leaving and asked her to drop it outbound mail for me.
The kids all know that Friday night is date night for Mike and me. We both travel a lot and Friday is our unwind reconnect time before, kids, grand kids and the weekend get into full swing. So when my cell phone rang that Friday evening I ignored it. Mine stopped ringing and Mike's immediately began. Glancing at it, the international number made him think it was one of a couple of work friends and he let it go to voicemail. We both forgot all about it.
The next morning I was putzing around the kitchen when Mike came in with a really weird look on his face. A look so foreign that I was suddenly really afraid that something serious had happened to someone we love. After assuring me that every one was fine, he asked me to sit down because the phone call and message on his phone were for me.
I sat down and he pushed play. It took four or five replays for me to stop crying long enough to hear the message.
The English accent on the phone could only be one person and Dee was calling to say that yes, she would love to meet us when we came to England. OMG.......