by Beth Barnes from Toronto, ON
Apr 26, 14
Years ago my boyfriend whisked me away to the country for a fabulous spa-weekend. It was my 30th birthday. And we spent two decadent days indulging in treatments, good food and great wine.
During our stay I noticed a woman in her early-sixties. She had striking silver hair, styled just below her chin. She was obviously alone. She read magazines in the "quiet zone" alone, dined by candlelight alone, pored over a book at breakfast alone. When we passed each other or made eye contact, she would nod and smile, as if we were old friends.
She might have been there enjoying some solitude away from her family, except she seemed to have an air of sadness about her. I can't explain why I felt this, she didn't look lonely or upset. She looked elegant. Friendly. But also, stoic, maybe. When I mentioned it to my boyfriend, he agreed.
After our two nights of luxury, it was time to go back to our modest lives 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.
When he got back to the car he handed me a folded piece of white paper.
“The lady at the desk gave me this,” he said.
It was a note written in the most delicate cursive I'd ever seen.
Here is what it said:
"I have had the pleasure of bearing silent witness to the JOY that you two experience in being together.
You clearly share something special and rare. Seldom does a man look at a woman with such depth of emotion...or she at him, eyes shining with love.
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."
When my boyfriend and I married, just over a year later, we used her words as the theme for our wedding, "very few belong together...". And when our daughter was born a year after that, we gave her the middle name, Joy.
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, just to thank her for her letter. To tell her that her observations were true - that even though we were a couple of silly kids, we were 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're listening, thank you.
Your letter remains folded in a small box in our closet, it’s tucked safely away, but never out of mind, or heart.