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How to Write A Love Letter

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This issue continues to get lots of hits at my website but some of you aren’t likely to head over there, unless you want to discover the awful truth that I was a Greg Brady look alike in a former life. This was spurred by a particularly moving evening with my husband. (Clean it up, monkey butt, I’m not talking that kind of moving.) I thought you all might like to read it. Enjoy.

Let’s talk about writing love letters.

Not candy coated pap. Not romance novel fantasy crap. Not “chick” stuff.

Real love letters.

Years ago I asked my first coach if he would write an endorsement for me. This is what Drew Rozell wrote:

“Laura is truth. Laura is love.”


That was a lot for me to take in. I mean, substitute your own name up there and sit with it for a while. It’s a lot to live up to.

So, I wasn’t sure the world wanted truth and love. And I wasn’t all that sure that I wanted to lay my heart out to you like that. So I splashed in those fun waves where no one has to worry about drowning, (like teaching folks how to write websites, identify their niche markets, brand their businesses, or organize their time, and get some balance in life…)

And then someone asked me a few months ago if I could teach her to watch ants.

Not increase profits, or get more stuff, or be more famous or popular or powerful.

To watch ants.

And my heart started to perk up … was this permission to go THERE?!

And then one of the dearest people I know lost her husband.

She is my age, 42. It is not for me to share her story here but I will tell you it was sudden.

It was a 4 a.m. knock at the door.

It was “No we can’t let you look at him.”

It makes me cry even as I type this.

So, I was sitting across from my own husband the other night. We haven’t missed a dinner together in months now, no matter how late we work or how late we eat. We know a wake up call when we hear one.

We were sitting there and I shared how my friend was doing and he took a bite of his food. The food was excellent. The kind that makes you close your eyes and turns off every other sense. And then his eyes welled up and he talked about the tsunami and all those kids who have been devastated with losses of their parents. Scott works in pediatric rehab and they have had a rough year. Several deaths and stories that have become increasingly tragic.

And his tears were of gratitude and humility. That we are alive. That we have each other. That we could sit and have an amazing meal.

We don’t deserve it. Let me go on record saying that I don’t think anyone deserves a damn thing. I don’t, you don’t. I think the word “deserve” is one of the most destructive forces on the planet but this is not the place for me to go off on THAT little tangent.

In the middle of Scott’s expressing his appreciation and his love for me I could feel he was SO present and I had this flash. For a moment I thought, “Oh my God, he’s going to tell me he’s dying.” I was wrong. I didn’t get any bad news. But, you know something? One day one of us, if we are lucky enough to have advance notice, will have to do just that. And we are going to have to figure out how to say good-bye.

Jack Kornfield, in one of my favorite books, A Path with Heart, shares a spiritual exercise in which we are to perceive everyone in the world as an Enlightened Being, a Buddha if you will. Yes, even the guy who cut you off in traffic, your mother-in-law, and your evil boss (oops, you ARE the evil boss? sorry)…everyone. And they all “get it” and we are the only ones who don’t. Our job is to figure out what they are trying to teach us.

I’ve seen a whole lot of death around me the past few years.

And I know a lot more is coming.

Everyone who is dying is teaching me that loving someone means you get the whole package. When you marry someone, or develop a true friendship with someone you are agreeing to go the distance. THE distance.

As Paul Simon would say, in his most excellent CD on relationships, You’re The One,

“Ask somebody to love you, it takes a lot of nerve.”

No kidding.

When we accept someone into our hearts, regardless of the relationship, we aren’t just saying, “Will you share my life with me?” We are saying, “Will you share my life with me and love me knowing full well that you will have to let me go one day? Can you go THE distance with me?”

And while I have been letting myself stand in the reality of this fact, I have been witnessing a lot that makes me want to grab people and shake them silly.

I see people looking for mates like it is some kind of a job interview. I heard someone express concern about marrying a woman who he was afraid tended toward anorexia because he wasn’t sure she was always attractive enough, especially when she didn’t wear make-up.

Before you blow a gasket, let me tell you this is someone that has a really good heart and that I like very much. I know where the pressures are coming from that led him to say this because he has suffered the same kinds of rejection himself. Rational or not, loving or not, I understand that he would be hesitant to make himself even more vulnerable to rejection by being with someone who isn’t perfect. It makes all the sense in the world to me. It’s fear. We all have fears and they make us do and say crazy things. And don’t try to tell me you’ve been immune. I know better. It may show up in how we assess potential mates: What will others think if I am seen with this person? Are they attractive enough? Wealthy enough? Witty enough? Will they represent me well? Is this the perfect ornament for me?

It may show up in how we relate to ourselves.

I was at a Grand Opening of a boutique and several area business people were there. I overheard this exchange:

“What do I do? Well, I make women beautiful.”

“Oh, you must be a plastic surgeon.”

“Why, yes, I am.”

And then I saw woman after woman asking if they need botox yet. No thought as to whether someone shooting botulism into you is a good thing. There was no “if” in that sense. The “if” was simply a question of timing. THIS is what we have to do to be beautiful?!?!?

Again, I see where this comes from. Look in any magazine or television show. It makes sense that everyone feels so insecure.

Can I just say something, though?

Jesus F^(*&)&*)$ Christ, people! Snap out of it!!!


Get a grip on the fact that we are human. We get old. We die.

The question is, do you want to spend all your time and money trying to run from reality pretending that somehow you have been granted special immunity from the 4 a.m. knock at your door or hearing really bad news from a loved one? Or are you willing to wake up, face this square in the eye and NOT SHRINK BACK?

Like I said, I’m not going to get all touchy-feely with you here. I have a picture of Samuel L. Jackson looking down on me. I used to have a lovely calligraphy that translated into “Calm”. I took it down. I am not calm. I’m not mindlessly floating around in an illusion. I’m not here to stay comfortable and to preach a little “I’m okay, you’re okay” at you.

Psst…Hey, Laura, I thought you said you were going to write love letters?
Um…this doesn’t seem that loving to me…I mean..”

Au contraire, my friend. I’m saying this precisely because I DO love. You see, once you look at someone through eyes that allow you to face their impermanence in your life…once you REALLY get this…you will get very clear very quickly on what being in love with someone really means. It’s not about ornamentation and earning potential. It’s about embracing the fundamental, essential humanity that is common to us. It’s about showing up with no mask on. It is the scariest and most beautiful thing we can ever do.

I’ve given you much to absorb here so I’ll leave you now to pour another cup of tea. Maybe you might want to pick up a pen and a paper and just start with this sentence:

“I don’t know how long I will get to be with you, so while I have you here there is something I want you to know about what it means to have you in my life…”

Edited: LH

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About Laura Young

  • Dan

    I have no idea who you are or what else you’ve ever written (this came to me from a poorly matched google alert) but I think you are wise & I very much enjoyed sharing your wisdom & your beautiful writing. Thanks

  • Nancy

    I had the extreme good fortune to have spent the last years of my dad’s life letting him know I loved him & was grateful for all he did for me, & not bringing up the (sometimes bad) things he did to me. When he died, I wasn’t devastated, I wasn’t even sorry or depressed. He’d been sick a long time, he wasn’t happy, & he was finally out of it. Having that peace between us was worth everything. So I’ve been doing same to everyone I can. My stepmom – the best christmas present I ever got in my life, & I let her know it, too; my friends; even my neighbors. In proper degrees, of course. But it’s so nice to let someone know you appreciate them, even in ways they don’t know about for things they don’t realize they do for you. I tell total strangers how nice they look (when they do); just out of the blue, a compliment like that can make someone’s day. I bought the kid who loaded groceries into my car a soda; he wasn’t expecting it. An unexpected freebie is always a nice thing. Tipping isn’t allowed, but there’s no rule against buying him a soda on a hot day. My neighbor’s granddaughter loves flowers. I remember when I was a little kid, I loved picking flowers. so I gave her carte blanche in my garden, and one particularly floriferous plant is ‘hers’, to strip as she chooses. We also planted a scarlet runner bean that’s ‘hers’. This little 5 year old is turning into a serious gardener who weeds & prunes, and is starting to enjoy living plants as well as picked flowers. And often as not, just saying ‘hi’, or acknowledging someone’s existance can be such a lift for them, especially when they’re in a position where everyone passes them by like furniture, like receptionists, security people, etc. Homeless, poor, or the elderly, too. Don’t just walk on by as if they were invisible; at the least make eye contact & smile. As I know, sometimes just being acknowledged, that you exist, can make you feel so much better, even for a few moments, it’s worth it.

  • Bennett

    Very inspirational, Laura. Thanks! Time to write to my wife.

  • Thank you all for the wonderful comments, and for extending the dialogue. We’re all in this together. I’m glad our paths have found a way to cross.

  • monica

    i love someone but his not and he didn’t know that i love him what can’t of litter i can write to him

  • Duane

    Ideealy won that wont confyooze the hell out of him with runnon sentances and bad speling that is no way to tell some1 u luv him what if he duznt no litter is spozed 2 b letter i mean cmon monica