“Did you ever try to catch a falling leaf?”

Indulge me if you will…

Thirty-nine years ago I received this letter from my boyfriend (who would later become my husband of 34 years). We had been dating (long distance) for about seven months when he wrote it. Neither one of us had a license or a car at the time, so we wrote to each other…a lot! He was an amazing writer, even as an eighteen year old. 

November 19, 1978

Lisa,

Did you ever try to catch a falling leaf? I mean, did you ever, as you just walked along the street on a fall day, think that a leaf might fall right near you and you might catch it in your hand as it twirled down towards the ground? They fall so fast, and yet, try as you might, it always seems that the leaf flutters away just out of the reach of the grasping palm you thrust out to meet it. So many fall, indeed, their shattered hulks litter the street, heaped together by some early bird housewife, or tumbling freely from lawn to gutter and back again. But still you never seem to be in the right place at the exact moment the leaf takes to flight. And because a capture is so rare, catching a falling leaf on a bright fall day is really a feat to be proud of, and maybe even put a smile on your face. Even when the trees are finally bare, and their naked branches extend their limbs towards the heavens, as if beseeching the Maker for protection thru out the coming winter even then, yes even then can you look from the dead foliage to the bare trees and say, “Ah, but maybe next fall…” Did you ever try to catch a falling leaf?

The quest for “fulfillment” in life can be compared to the quest of the falling leaf.

Not to say that life is no fun and a burden unless you can snatch that leaf floating on a breeze. To be sure, what can be better than just living? To be able to roam about on a fabulous fall day, feeling the nip of the wind, being blinded by the bright, orangey, warmth of a fall sun. And what can be more appealing to the eyes then a brilliant fall landscape? Clouds scudding across the sky, colors on the trees, and a wind caressing your face, telling you it’s great to be alive!

Then the time comes, the moment arrives! Your path crosses that of leave and you collide, and you can’t believe that you have , until you look in your hand and view the prize!! Then you think how wonderful it is!

And how wonderful it is when life drops a leave in our hands! These are moments of almost painful pleasure. Times almost too good to be true, that you fear will disappear all too soon. Holding that leaf in your hand, you are content, and ready to face anything so long as the leaf remains. You can’t believe it but, there it is in your hand, the leaf is yours!!

Of course we don’t always catch leaves. But the hope that someday, some way, we might capture a leaf or even more than one leaf, keeps our spirits up. “Maybe next fall…” we say to ourselves, and silently hope for that day while living in the day while it lasts.

Lisa, you are a falling leaf!! Somehow, I walked in the right spot at the right moment and you fell to me. I couldn’t believe it, I was stunned! But sure enough, when I look, unclench my fist and gaze in wonder, there lies the leaf, resplendent in fall garb shining for all the world to see. And I can say, “Look! See what has come my way!!” and be happy, and proud!

But we’re not together! The days, weeks and even months pass when we neither see or speak to each other. When all we are to each other is words on paper and a deep feeling in the soul. The days fall like dead leaves all around us. We dart about – reaching, clutching, grasping desperately for them but they cleverly elude us, flipping and fluttering away from us at the last moment. But no matter how disappointed we may be, we can always say “Ahhh, but maybe next fall…”!!

Good times for us are only time away, Lisa, we’ve caught leaves and we’ll catch many more — together!…

Well it’s time to put pen down and get some sleep. Take care of yourself, I love you. Write to me you gorgeous hunk of woman you — I need you!

All my love, all the time…

Tom

 

3 Comments

Christine

Leafa,

What a treasure you have in this, and surely, all of Tom’s letters.

And what a treasure you had in Tom, and with him. As he was to those who knew and loved him.

And you Leafa, are a treasure still to those who love you. (Not the same, I know)

Xoxo
Christine

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