A letter can change your history...

Today.  Well today it is COLD and we are stuck in a house....staring at four walls.  Feeling a bit caged.So what do I do? I make the kids clean.  Not just "clean" but CLEAN. We haven't tackled their closets since the baby came along and it was time.  Their bedrooms are small and they need the space those closets provide so...I made them empty their closets.  In Haley's case...also her dressers since she wants to paint her room.  That's right I am insane.  I am stuck here in a house with two tween/teen with empty closets. And a toddler who thinks this is like Christmas and everything is "MINE!" That looks something like this....

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In Adam's room though we found an old container I kept things I have collected over the years.  Old pictures, cards, art projects and letters abound.  I am clearly not a packrat EXCEPT when it comes to sentimental stuff.  I then turn into a "memory hoarder". I have been for my whole life actually. I think it falls back to those early crap years.  When something good happened I grasped it full force and "collected" it...anything I could from both good and bad events.  In 7th grade I was bullied terribly.  They would write me hate letters and "we are going to kick your @$$" letters daily (lovely little girls)...I saved them in a box.  Collected them.  They were part of my story.  They made me a better person really. I could read those letters for years later and know I had survived those horrid little girls who made my already messed up childhood even worse. I finally let that box go around 16 but I share this so you know that this being a "memory collector" started young.

I can say I am VERY thankful I "collect".  At the age of 15 my life took a turn the minute I met Daryl (who was 13) at church camp. Lightening bolt.  I know many of you have followed our love story over the decades and one of my favorite parts of our stories has always been "the day" it all changed and I received this letter.

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See Daryl and I had been on again/off again relationship for three years.  Always friends...that never changed for us.  As any teenager will tell you it was hard to imagine we would ever get to see each other again so we would decide to "date other people" and then change our mind. The literal distance between us was measured in states, youth, money and our crazy family lives. Nothing was easy/normal for either of us growing up really.  This common unique childhood has always been a bit of a bond between us.  After all, would someone who grew up in a "Leave it to Beaver" household ever understand our NOT normal lives? He always did. He never judged me and understood that many of the things (like moving out so young) were really not in my control and not a reflection of who I really was.  We would spend hours talking on the phone and writing letters to each other...that's right....letters. I still have most.  I am a collector. We had been "on a break" for at least a year and I had been dating a very nice fella... But the poor fella was constantly being compared to Daryl in my mind...and I straight up told him when we first dated that "I will always love Daryl....that will never change.".  Oh to be 17 and a stubborn, blunt girl. I had been on my own for sometime.  I was lonely and nice fella was my friend as well and kept me company in my very depressing life.  For that I will always be thankful.  But Daryl always had my heart....even though I had only had 3 short days with him....3 years earlier. I knew he was "the one"...but he too was dating other people. I knew if I was honest when Daryl and told him "I am still in love with you!" I could jeopardize our friendship...and our friendship meant sooo much to me.  If I couldn't have him as my boyfriend I simply had to have him in my life still. But then this letter came.

And he fessed up to feeling the same way. I can remember pulling this letter out of my apartment mailbox...barely 18...and my boyfriend at the time was behind me as I pulled it out. He asked what it was because....uhm 16 year old Daryl was an artist even then...

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Poor fella had spent a year in Daryl's shadow so he knew. But I lied and said "Nothing..." and then told him I was going to bed early that night.  Something told me not to open it in front of him.  Waiting those few hours to open it had been torture!  Truly. By January I managed to save enough money and find a way to come visit Daryl for the first time in 3 years. By May I moved down here. The rest is history...and it has been amazing....

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I always wonder what would have happened if this one little letter hadn't been sent... If that 16 year old boy hadn't been brave enough write it? If that 18 year old girl hadn't been brave enough to literally walk away from her entire life? Sometimes you just have to take that blind leap of faith and follow your heart. I am so glad I did.

Now.  Back to cleaning this tornado before poor Daryl comes home to a disaster of a house! :-)