Letters 2020


Letter 61

10th January 2020 (Czech mountains)

Dear D,

I’m in the mountains in the Czech Republic again.  This year I decided to try cross country skiing and for the last week I have been out and about in the countryside trying to master the skill.  It’s quite different from downhill and sometimes hard work going up slopes but it widens the horizon to places I hardly noticed before.  From quite a young age you used come here with us for winter mid-term break and in the two years before we separated you had your first go skiing.  You made great progress and I had high hopes for you.  The first year it was only you & I with your step brother and his then girlfriend.  One year later my brother came too.  I believe that was the last time you ever saw your uncle.  You may or may not know that he died not many years after that occasion.  I’d imagine somewhere in your memory you will have an image of him, as he was a great guy and you got on well with him.

It is hard to understand the effect of losing someone close to you.  The initial shock, the space no longer occupied, the realisation that a history of togetherness can no longer be shared and the gradual acceptance of the status quo.  But without warning at unexpected moments your thoughts can be invaded as the image never fully fades.  You may remember the graveyard you visited here with me, up the hill from the cottage to the church and then a short walk out from the village.  I went there again this evening after dark.  It is one of my most special places of peacefulness.  It is almost completely still and silent with the occasional sound of a dog barking in the distance.  It is dark with just some light from a part moon behind the clouds and a number of candles flickering on nearby plots, as I light mine.  There is a spiritual moment when I can reflect on that inspiring part of my past and give thanks for the good things in my present life.  My thoughts turn to you for a moment.  I have managed to talk about loss again, without intending to do so.  Unresolved loss.   

Over the years I have written to you from here a number of times.  I can’t remember exactly what I would have said.  I’d imagine it is similar to this letter, where I ramble on without a clear trend or message, just random thoughts.  I realise it is very difficult to write you a coherent letter as I only have distant memories of you as you were those years ago and a vague image of who you might be now.  I do like the idea of communicating with you and this is the only way I know how.  It is getting late, maybe I am getting tired so I will go to bed so I can carry on with hopefully a clearer head tomorrow.

It is now the next evening.  I had my best session by far on cross country skis today with a couple of hours before and another couple after lunch.  The snow conditions are excellent, so I hope tomorrow will be the same.  The problem is that the temperature threatens to raise above 0° which will affect the surface and manoeuvers I was able to do today may be more difficult. It is hardly enough coming once a year, to be able to ski properly and I have had a thought I may try and come back for a week in a couple of months.

I wonder how you got on over Christmas and the New Year.  I posted a Christmas card to you again this year to the only address I have for you.  I am pessimistic about the chances you received it, but I prayed that you would open it and realise it was from me; even if you then discarded it, as at least you would know I tried to contact you.  It is always the same message I want to impart to you, that I would be very happy to hear from you, but only when you feel comfortable with it.  I would love to be able to chat with you about so many things, like the books you read, how was university, even what course did you take, are you working and are you happy with the job, did you ever go skiing again, so many random things that would help to fill in a picture for me, but all these things will have to hang in the air for the moment.

It is late again and I will sign off by wishing you a Very Happy New Year and may all your hopes and wishes for 2020 be granted.

With all my love for now,


Dad xxx



Letter 67

22-11-2020 (at home – Covid-19 lurking outside)

Dear D,

I wish I could write a sweet letter of encouragement like a father might write to any twenty-four-year-old daughter, with your youthful energy, enthusiasm, hopes, plans and hopefully not many disappointments.  But it seems I need to enter a password before I can start.  Passwords are a bit of a nightmare at the best of times.  Microsoft usually helps out for most sites I try to enter, but not this one.  I’m sure I used to know it, at least it never used to hinder me, but now I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.  And there is no option to re-set it.  Which means that where there were letters, now they are becoming something else.  But I don’t rightly know what they should be.  I probably mentioned to you before about the son who wrote to his mother from the trenches in France during the Great War, but he didn’t put any words inside, just an envelope with her address.  His idea was that she would know that he was still alive.  If I could do that, it would be something.  It would let you know that I am alive, as you may not know and you could reflect for a moment on what we were.  But realistically I can’t even do that.  So, I can only continue to write about my thoughts of you and let you know of my life’s progress as if in a journal. 

You are never entirely out of my thoughts; at random moments I think of you and wonder how you are.  Sometimes it is more profound, like just now.  I was looking for some photographs of my eldest daughter for one of her brothers who wants to produce a photographic book of memories of her life for a milestone birthday she had recently and I came across some lovely photos of you.  My heart dropped, not quite tearfully, I have gone beyond that point.  I savour those lovely memories and.  Recently I sent the following prayer request to an online religious service I have been watching on Sundays.  Weeks later I was watching when the priest read it out; it was a great surprise to hear a thought that is buried deep within me, spoken by another.  I generally feel there is no one to empathise and understand my feelings.  This is what I wrote;

I would like you to add my youngest daughter to your prayer offerings.  We were separated over eleven years ago when she was nearly twelve years old.  The occasion of our separation was the break-up of my marriage with her mother.  At that tender age she may not have felt she had any other option but to part company from me. I pray for forgiveness for whatever mistakes I made in causing the breakdown of our relationship and sincerely hope that we can reconcile and can resume our relationship as father and daughter with love and understanding.

Kind regards,

I wonder if you believe in the power of prayer.  I pray every morning before my day starts.  This includes my hope for you, that you have a fulfilling life, that you will be loving & compassionate and that you will reach your full potential in all aspects of your life.  I could not bear the thought you may shed a tear of sadness for the break in our relationship, at any time, either now or in the future, so I add that prayer that we can renew our relationship in real time.  If we are not to reconcile, I would settle for you to be a loving & compassionate individual, to have a fulfilling life and to reach your full potential. 

I imagine I would like to write to try and write to you every month.  I make a list of things I would like, or need to do, which lives beside my laptop; which I can glance at now and see reminders like ‘pay water bill’, ‘cancel Netflix sub’, ‘do tax returns’, ‘change email account’ which will all eventually get done without much stress, but ‘write to youngest daughter’ never appears on these lists.  I don’t need to be reminded of you and my desire for us to make contact.  The time just comes when I start a blank page, imagining I am not going to be able to think what to say.  But it is always easy, transporting me to a different plane where you exist in my deepest thoughts, leading me on a journey into some dark undergrowth trying to reach out to you.

The time has come again for me to sign off.  Christmas is approaching at a rate, perhaps with not much opportunity to celebrate, but I hope I will get the chance to write.  Is there any chance of a Christmas card?

With all my love for now,


Dad xxx