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Letters From an Archeological Dig Remind Me of My Past

by Judy Stone-Goldman on November 3, 2014

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Thirty-six years ago I separated from my first husband and sought a divorce. Thirty-six years ago I wrote letters to friends and family to tell them my “not-very-good” news. And thirty-six years ago those friends and families wrote me back in long, thoughtful letters, letting me know they loved and supported me through whatever troubles I was facing.

These are real letters, on paper, some written in pen or pencil and some typed on machines called typewriters. They are artifacts from the archeological dig of my house clearing; remnants of times past. As I read these letters, I look back on myself and my life through the eyes of others.

The letters are filled with words like “shock” and “sadness” and also “I’m sorry I didn’t understand what was going on.” They hold no acrimony or harshness, no ugliness, no taking of sides. They offer comfort and courage, and they express trust and confidence in me (thank you!). Most important, they include the writers’ fair and compassionate reflections. This is a chance to revisit history beyond my own faded memories.

Letters are gifts, a sharing of the self. Letters are recorded history, an invitation to see the world through an expanded lens. Letters carry life stories we once shared with others.

And maybe, if the letter you write is honest and loving (or honest and “tough loving,” as the need may be), maybe your letter will be saved. Then some day, the recipient might find it and remember something about her life and the good friends she’s had, and something about the incalculable worth of compassion and caring in the sorrowful transitions of life.

Why not write a letter today?

Letter Writing Prompts:

“Dear ______, I found myself thinking about you today when ______” (then keep writing)

“Dear ______, Remember letters? I decided to write today because ______” (then keep writing)

“Hello ______, I am remembering when you and I ______” (then keep writing)

“My dear ______, It’s been too long! I want to tell you ______” (then keep writing)

“Dear [put your own name here], I’ve been missing you! I really want to talk to you and let you know ______” (then keep writing)



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz Gow November 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Dearest Judy
I LOVE the way you write, I really do. You have such a way of a capturing depth, fun and meaning through use of language and metaphors, that honestly leave me with feeling as if I have witnessed a richness in what is being shared.

I really appreciated your authenticity in how the artefacts allowed you to reconnect and be reminded of you and others. I love what the artefacts produced. What an incredible journey. Thank your for these ‘pit stops’. Love and hugs, xx


Judy Stone-Goldman
November 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Liz, I so appreciate your words, and I love that we share richness through these words. In a way, these blogs are like those artefacts: forging connections with people over time. I’ve continued to find more artefacts and have been searching out some people who knew my father. Don’t know whether I’ll be able to find and reach them, but I can still feel the webs forming over generations and among people. Thanks again for your comment, and know that it was a lovely moment away from the packing.


Sherryl Perry
December 11, 2014 at 9:07 pm


“Letters are gifts,” That resonates with me so soundly. Recently, my 86-year-old mother-in-law passed away. On Thanksgiving Day, after the tables were cleared, we all sat around and went through boxes of photos. Among them were two hand written letters from my husband’s uncle to his sister. He was a 21-year old man on the Reuben James (which was sunk just prior to the declaration World War II) when he wrote them.

My husband is a dear and sentimental man who has always been interested in that era and often shared stories with his mom. Thankfully, his siblings never shared that interest. So, we are now the proud owners of that piece of history.

As always Judy, you got me thinking and reminiscing. Thanks.


Judy Stone-Goldman
December 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm


This is a wonderful story — how remarkable to find those letters. To share a treasure like those letters brings a closeness and connection among family members. And it helps bridge longs spans of time and bring alive people from other generations who would otherwise seem like “ancient history.” Thank you for adding this story as a postscript to my blog, and again, condolences to your family over the passing of your mother-in-law.


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