I was right. It was.
In an effort to cope with my sadness, I began going to therapy, I acquired three jobs that kept my busy, and I worked on developing healthy coping mechanisms that would get me out of my own head.
While living in Warkworth, I became acquainted with a woman who I always enjoyed spending time with. I couldn't put my finger on it exactly except to say: she has an easy quiet nature and twinkling eyes that always make me feel at home. Last August she asked me for a bunch of gladiolus I had grown to lay on her late husband's grave, and I felt deeply honoured to be a small part of that remembrance. Though not related by blood, she will always be Grandma Barb to me. I began writing to her in early December, and have continued every week since then. The content of the letters wasn't terribly exciting - I wrote about my jobs, my barn-turned-house cat, Christmas plans, what book I was reading, and what I was currently knitting. I wrote about tapping maple trees at my friends' farm, about a fundraiser I had organized following the Atlanta shootings, about all the flowers I was hoping to grow during the upcoming season. She was one of the first people I told that I was moving back to Trent Hills in the spring.
In truth, I started writing to Grandma Barb because I knew she lived alone, and (like the rest of us) had gone through most of the year without seeing many friends and family. I figured she'd appreciate the snail mail, no matter how simple and rambly. I didn't realize how much writing to her meant to me, until her daughter sent me a photo of the cards I'd written, all lined up on the coffee table in her living room. It struck me that I was writing just as much for myself as I was for her.
Writing to Grandma Barb inspired me to write regularly to even more people this winter; among them an aunt who has spent much of the past year taking care of her husband who has cancer and her mother who has alzheimers, and a friend who had the courage to walk away from her partner, ten years and two children later. Both of these women are pure grace and generosity, despite dealing with hard things, and writing to them reminded me of a world outside of my own grief. For my birthday in March, I made a list of all the people who have been so supportive and encouraging this past year, and wrote each one a thank you card. It felt counterintuitive - to feel graditude grow, simply by practicing graditude - but it made my second Covid Birthday so much sweeter.
There's something hard about life shifting, about starting over. It's easy to get lost in my own thoughts and emotions, to forget about the world outside of myself. It can be difficult to reach out to someone else in love and graditude, when I feel sad and lonely - and truthfully, it has taken me years to develop these patterns. This year has proved challenging: in maintaining relationships and growing new ones, but I will always be grateful to have (re)discovered the beauty of snail mail this past winter - to discover how good it was for me! Especially during a year that has forced me to find creative ways to engage with and stay connected to people I love.