During our stay I noticed a woman in her early-sixties around the inn, not only because of her striking silver hair, styled perfectly and falling just below her chin, but also because she was very obviously alone. She read magazines in the “quiet zone” alone, dined by candlelight alone, pored over a book at breakfast alone. Though she was alone, every brief moment we passed each other or made eye contact, she would politely nod and smile, as if we were old friends.
There was nothing wrong with this picture, a person spending time alone. She could have been there enjoying some solitude away from her family after the holidays… except, she seemed to have an air of sadness about her. I can’t explain why I felt this, she didn’t look particularly lonely or upset. Rather, she looked elegant. Friendly. But also, stoic, maybe. When I mentioned it to my boyfriend, he agreed.
After our two nights in the lap of luxury, it was time to go back to our modest life in the city. I sat in the car as it warmed up while my boyfriend trudged through the falling snow to the main building to check out.
As I watched him walking back a few minutes later, I noticed a look of perplexity on his face. “Was everything okay with the bill?” I asked as he climbed into the driver’s seat. Because, this wasn’t the type of place you’d like for there to be a disparity on the bill. “Yeah,” he said, “but the lady at the desk gave me this as I was paying.” I looked down as he handed me a neatly folded piece of plain white paper. “She said it was left behind for us. She doesn’t know who left it, but it was in the box for our room.”
I opened the paper to see a note written in delicate cursive, and my heart skipped a beat. After reading it, out loud at first then a thousand times in my head, I knew exactly who it was from.
Here is what it said:
Very few belong together. It seems that you do. Keep holding hands. All ways. Always.
…from a stranger old enough to be your mom, fortunate enough to have once been truly in love, and wise enough to know the real thing when I see it.
Blessings & Happy New Year
…Thanks for reminding me.
Over the years I’ve thought about trying to contact the woman, about posting an ad on Craigslist or reaching out through some other form of social media, to thank her for her letter. To tell her that her observations were correct – that even though we were a couple of silly kids, we were just as in love as she described. And that we are still very much, holding hands.
So, I suppose this is my reaching out. This is my letter to the woman who wrote the most important letter I’ve ever received, the woman with the perfect silver hair. If you ever happen to read this, I – we – thank you.
The letter remains perfectly folded in a small box in our closet, tucked safely away, but never out of mind, or heart.