A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin
I’m sorry it’s taken me a little while to write back. You see, there was something in your last letter that I wasn’t sure how–or even if–to respond to.
Maybe it’s just coincidence and maybe there’s nothing to it.
You see, I appreciate you and our correspondence so much. And I don’t want to put it in jeopardy by bringing up something I shouldn’t. But even more, I don’t want to endanger it–or you–by not bringing up something if I should. So, I’ve decided to mention it, even if it’s awkward or uncomfortable.
I remember reading in your profile that you were trying to stay “under the radar” so your husband can’t find you.
Please know that I keep everything you write confidential. I mean, I do that with all my pen pals. My uncle and my brother know I have pen pals, but I haven’t told them any of your names or anything that has been expressed in your letters. Believe me, I honor the confidentiality of the pen-pal relationship! No one in my life knows who I’m corresponding with except the person I write to.
I felt it was important to tell you that before I go on.
My brother Norman doesn’t hold the same respect for confidentiality. When he saw how much my uncle and I were enjoying the pen pal project, he decided to join. I try to discourage him from talking about the letters he gets and writes. But if you knew my brother, you’d know that trying to keep him from talking is like trying to dissuade the Santa Ana winds from blowing in September.
He’s a big talker.
The thing is. Well, the thing is this: you wrote that your husband’s name was Newt.
Newt is the name of one of my brother’s pen pals.
It’s not a very common name, is it?
Norman says that Newt is his “relationship coach.” He’s teaching him how to “make a move” on his best friend, Ira. (Ira’s a woman–a friend of mine, actually.)
I guess it’s not all bad for Norman, since Newt’s coaching gave him enough confidence to ask Ira and her daughter to move in with him. They were living at a shelter. I guess they had some hardship, and there’s no dad in the picture right now. Ira’s got a great attitude so I’m hoping now that she and her daughter have a save place to live, they’ll bounce back.
But for you! Isn’t it a weird coincidence that your husband would be writing to my brother? If it even is your husband. Do you think it is?
If so, will you still be able to write to me? I hope so!
I can understand if you have to stop. I mean, your safety comes first. And if you were trying to keep your husband from finding you and the kids, and then it turns out that he’s in touch with your pen pal’s brother… I’ll do whatever you need to and respect your decision.
It’s just that I hope we can keep writing. Your letters–and you–mean so much to me! I keep your letters locked up in my desk and your emails in a password protected folder. Norm’s got his own account on my computer, so when he uses it, he logs in as him. He doesn’t know my passwords.
Since I’m not sure you’ll still feel like you can write, I’ll make this a long letter and tell you everything!
I’m enclosing some pictures of Jena, just like you asked. Isn’t she a little nut?
Her face is so expressive. I can always tell just what she’s thinking and feeling. I hope she keeps that quality all her life. I love a face that reveals all! (You know I’m bad at secrets!)
We had family day at my uncle’s on Sunday.
When we got there, Jena was in such a mood.
Even when she’s grumpy, she tries to be polite. We sat together in the living room, and she folded her little hands in her lap.
“What’s the matter, Cat?” I asked her.
“Stupid noisy train!” she said. We had taken the Rapid Transit into the city.
She really dislikes loud noises, and I think she dislikes crowds. Kaitlin, do you think toddlers can have PTSD? Sometimes, she seems shook up after we’ve been around lots of people, and I don’t know if this is normal over-stimulation for a sensitive child or if the trauma she experienced in the camp gets triggered.
To help her calm down, I got her a snack, put a Haydn string quartet on my uncle’s stereo system, and gave her a little time alone.
Half an hour later, she was happy and laughing with Norman.
I know I tease Norman a lot, and he probably doesn’t come off that well in all my letters. It’s not fair to him! He really is an awesome guy. He’s my big brother!
And he’s Jena’s uncle. I feel so happy that she’ll get to grow up with a cool, funny, and smart uncle, just like I did.
Oh, Kaitlin! Norman’s got such a good heart, if he can just find his way from his head so he can feel it!
Maybe, if he is writing Newt-your-husband, some of his goodness might possibly maybe rub off on Newt, just like Newt’s confidence has rubbed off on Norman. What if? What if something good comes from this for both of them?
I know. You probably think I’m foolishly optimistic, like my uncle. Jasper thinks every painting is a masterpiece! And I think every person has a heart of gold, if only they can find their way to it.
Oh, I got so carried away with my letter that I forgot I hadn’t answered all your questions! About a significant other: Your guess is right. I’m single. I’ll share a secret: I’ve never had a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend, either. I’m just not sure I think that way–or at least, not yet, anyway. I remind myself of a character in a Mary Wilkins Freeman story–very oriented towards family and home, but more content to take care of someone else’s child than to have my own, and much happier to have my rooms and my books and my thoughts to myself than to have to share them with someone who feels he’s due them, at the end of the day.
It’s not lonely for me. It’s my choice. It’s free.
Hailey’s father sounds wonderful–and I hear such love in your words when you write about him. I hope the complications in your situation find resolution. It can happen! Or at least, in novels it always does. Maybe in life, too?
I feel so bad when you write that I’m your support system because what if Norman’s Newt is your husband Newt and that comes between us? Oh, I hope nothing stops us! I hope you can still feel safe enough to keep writing! I want to be able to keep hearing about you and your beautiful children, and I want to be able to cheer when you write me that letter telling me that you and Hailey’s dad worked it all out and he’s moving in! Or whatever you decide to do. I’m sure it will be wonderful.
Oh, before I go, I just wanted to tell you to have hope. I guess that’s something I learned from Jena. I mean, to come from something as terrible as she experienced, and now to be a smart, thriving, opinionated little kid–that’s a miracle that fills me with hope. It’s love that did that. And you: your whole being is so full of love! I know only the best will happen for you and that you’ll make it through this challenge and you’ll be so strong that all the love in your heart will be super-charged with Super You Power!
I sound like my crazy brother when I write like that. He really is a good guy, even if he’s got a big mouth.
Take care, please! I hope you feel you can still write.
Lots and lots and lots of love,
p.s. We don’t have any pets. We haven’t been able to find any! We tried adopting a pigeon that wandered through the field, but that didn’t work out. Maybe one day we’ll have a cat? We’re hoping!
p.p.s. Sorry I had to share that weird news. I hope you can still write! And maybe it’s not even the same Newt?
p.p.p.s. But of course I understand if you can’t keep writing.
p.p.p.p.s. Bye! Or… until next time! And thank you so much! Thinking good thoughts!