“We had the love, but I long for the letters.”

William Shaw, in his 80s, wishes he had a letter to
read and reread from his wife, two years after her

But what I don’t have is
a letter from her in her handwriting?on her stationery?from her
heart to mine. I regret she never had one from me and I wonder if she ever
wanted one, or ever missed having a little bit of the real me to hold on to. A
letter can be that.

There is not
much that is more personal than a letter, particularly a love letter. No card,
no poem, no gift is as intimate as a letter. I’m sorry now that I never wrote to
her, even if it would have been in my nearly indecipherable handwriting. I
probably shouldn’t feel this way?there never really was a need, and who
thinks ahead to what might happen? I know that what I’m sorry about is that I
don’t have a letter from her, in her bold, beautiful script, to read and

What I’m trying to say is
that our lives have changed. That special something in a personal letter has
disappeared with the advent of telephones, airplanes and now e-mail?which
is impersonal and limited by the lack of what I shall call “personal

The letter is dying.
Epistolarians lie twitching in the ruins of post offices around the world. I
adore data and Quartz-smoothed text just as much as the next geek, but there is
nothing like a letter written in someone’s hand, with the fractal quiver of
breath and nerve impulse and muscle clench transforming pen on paper to
blow-by-blow emotion.

Read the rest of the column. Then write