writing to you

February 6th, 2019

A few days before my daughter left for college, the air between us was not air. It was more like tar. Neither of us could budge from our opposing sides. Inside her room, she was petrified; outside, I was petrified. You’d think that at a crossroads like this we could’ve shared a sentiment. But no, if you can’t share the oxygen in a room, it’s unlikely you can share anything else.

That’s when a thought came to me. I’ve written about her, but I’ve never written to her. I scooted out to Staples and bought a red-covered Moleskin, then filled the first dozen pages. I told her what I knew and believed beneath the sticky pitch of my fear. Whatever I wrote, it was quick. I don’t remember any of it.

I knocked on her door and handed the journal to her. I’ve written a little bit about you, and now you can fill in the rest. A few minutes later she came out in tears. We shared a long embrace.

After she’d landed cross-country in a world of her own, I continued to write to her. A letter a week, perhaps, because what else could I do with myself? Although in person most of what I say is a tiresome nag, the words on paper were love.

She told me that she’d started to write in the journal, and then one day she wrote to me. When I told people that my daughter had written me a letter, they all responded the same way. On paper?

Yes, on paper. Words on paper, written to me.


About my books, some people say This is drivel, irritating, unhelpful. I couldn’t finish. Don’t bother. At the same time, other folks will say You have cracked me open and read my thoughts. I underlined the whole thing. This book is for everyone. 

It’s a curious thing: how people see or hear each other so differently when at the deepest level we are all alike.

Last week I mailed my daughter one of my books, the one called Hand Wash Cold. It was a blind leap, but she was feeling lost and hopeless, and I knew that feeling well.

Then I got a text. I’ve been reading all night.

How could it be that the words I’d written for me would turn out to be written for her? Because of love.


I want to write to you today about writing, since we now share writing with each other. It blows my mind that you are reading my books and loving them. That’s because I put love into the words when I wrote them, even though I can’t remember writing them or even what they were.

If you take anything from the old, dried-up words on a page, it is love, because love put them there. And the same can be true of every word you write and every word you say, even if it’s someone else’s written word. It is your breath and your blood that brings words to life. So you, too, will always have the power to bring forth words that will help other people even as the words help you.

This is how we bring the broken pieces of ourselves back together.


Photo by Brandi Redd.


  1. Many years ago I started sharing my feelings and thoughts through tape recordings. I tried my best to explain why i did what I did, said what I said. Most importantly I explained about some of my poor parenting skills. Along with some of my good skills. At times I was tearful other times down right funky. My hope is he will understand that he nor I came with a manual. I adore my son and would take a bullet for him. But sometimes he really needed slapping. But, then so did I.

    Comment by Vivian Hatfield — February 6, 2019 @ 11:50 am

  2. Love, honesty and humility. You have those qualities in spades ?

    Comment by Marilee Pittman — February 6, 2019 @ 11:55 am

  3. I look forward to mail daily I have about a dozen penpals and it always makes my day to get mail

    Comment by Donna Entrican — February 6, 2019 @ 12:24 pm

  4. Dear Maezen,

    This post feels like my future reaching back to reassure me. If that makes any sense.

    I love this post. It gives me hope.

    Comment by Kathryn — February 6, 2019 @ 3:02 pm

  5. That is -again- beautiful.
    While reading I thought how lucky your daughter is, but then it occurred to me that you -or any parent- would probably say that you are the lucky one. Parenting is at times not easy, but precisely that struggle and how that changes you makes it so precious. I hope that your daughter feels better.

    Comment by Simone — February 7, 2019 @ 12:43 am

  6. When you share your life with us here, it is so encouraging. Thank you so very much. And that Georgia is reading your book…wow, love full circle.

    In gassho,

    Comment by Kirsten — February 7, 2019 @ 4:49 am

  7. I think I owe you a letter. Not owe, I want to.
    I took up Art Journaling for 2019 but I need to also keep up my letter writing. A letter or card in the mail is the most precious thing these days!!!

    Comment by Jennie — February 7, 2019 @ 6:10 am

  8. Is there anything that could make a writing mother happier than to know her words have landed in her child’s heart? What a beautiful affirmation, of all you are and all you do. Thank you for this one. And yes to all that love.

    Comment by Katrina — February 7, 2019 @ 3:42 pm

  9. It is “your breath and blood” but as importantly in my view, it is the writer’s brains, taste, insight, memory and all those little gray brain cells that we are so grateful she has and knows how to use.

    Comment by Bill — February 7, 2019 @ 5:43 pm

  10. I sat on my bathroom floor to re-read this piece. I felt sudden tears. How sad and wonderful this life. Thankyou.

    Comment by Nick Webb — February 7, 2019 @ 10:35 pm

  11. Human, real. Good stuff. Thank you.

    Comment by Gary Robbins — February 8, 2019 @ 2:15 pm

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