Take a look at some poignant letters written over 100 years ago. Andrew Bass wrote to his wife from Camp Lee near Richmond Virginia in 1862 "Dear wife, don’t grieve for me it will do no good but let me say to you pray for me with all your heart that if we never meet on earth again that we may meet in heaven where parting will be no more."
John DeCamp wrote to his brother William about coming to Ohio in 1829 "Dear Brother at the last time we saw each other thee expressed a
strong desire to come out here and I have frequently written to thee on
the subject. Yet not withstanding I humbly desire that thee will not
take up with my mind alone in this matter. But use thy own will herein.
As I do not wish to over persuade thee or any of my friends."
Such beautiful writing! It is so expressive and for me it evokes strong emotions. But what would John or Andrew have said, and how would they have said it or sent it, if they were writing now?
Andrew might have sent an email "Hey sweetie, I'm okay. Keep your fingers crossed I make it home safe and sound but please don't worry."
John might have texted his brother William "Bro - r u coming 2 Ohio or not?"
They don't quite evoke the same emotions do they? And would they be saved? Would descendants of John or Andrew be able to read their words 100 years later?
Yes, I fear we've lost the art of letter writing. Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I love email and texting via smartphones. But I also love getting a letter by snail mail and prolonging the opening of the envelope. Anticipation builds while the kettle is put on to boil water for tea. It's almost a ritual.
But I don't get many snail mail letters anymore. In fact the last one I got was several months ago from my 89 year old auntie.
Have we lost letter writing forever? Is it too late to get it back? I often think of how our descendants won't have our words on paper to enjoy. How they may not have our photographs since most of us keep them in digital format.
I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done. But I sure love the sweetness of Andrew's words to his wife and the longing I can hear in John's note to his brother. And I hope we haven't lost that completely.