By the time Andy and I finished high school we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, but no one gets married straight out of school: “You’re so young. You need to finish your education. Get your degrees first. You need some security.” And that was why we didn't arrange a wedding but headed off to university.

Andy hugged me tightly and said, “Three years will soon pass." He looked into my wet eyes and added, "I‘ll come and see you every weekend if I can.” 

“We could write to each other,” I suggested.

He smiled, "Yes! I'll write to you every day."

And then Andy went south and I went west.




Every Friday, after his final lecture, Andy headed for the bus station. He caught slow bus after slow bus until he'd travelled the many miles between Cardiff on the south coast of Wales, and Aberystwyth on the west coast. Arriving late at night, he'd forget his tiredness as he anticipated our weekend together. 

We spent many of our precious end-of-the-week hours strolling together along the coast, arm-in-arm, buffeted by the strong winds blowing off the sea. And we talked. We talked about what we were going to do when we could be together forever. Saturday was always perfect, but the thought of having to say goodbye yet again, always cast a shadow over Sunday.

As soon as Andy had boarded his bus back to Cardiff on Sunday evening, I’d hurry back to my room in search of paper and a pen, so I could write him a letter. And as soon as Andy arrived back at his university, he’d write one to me. Can two people find anything to say when they’ve only just parted? It seems two people in love never run out of words.

Every morning I searched my mail box, certain there'd be a letter from Andy waiting for me, and there always was. Each envelope was addressed in his neat print:

To the Most Gorgeous Miss Sue Skeleton.

I slipped my finger into the envelope and ripped it open, and read my letter as I walked back to my room. I devoured every one of Andy’s words right down to the last xxxxx.

Every morning of the week we'd receive letters from each other, and every evening, we'd write letters in reply, without fail. And most weekends Andy would travel to see me.

The first long year passed, then the second, and eventually the third and final year disappeared too. What did we have to show for our three years of university education? We each had a Bachelor of Science degree… and a huge pile of letters.

On the very last day of our final semester of our final year, Andy and I were married. Two weeks later, we were on a plane flying to Sydney. I was returning home after a few years away. Andy was off on the biggest adventure of his life. But before we left for Australia, we had to sort through our belongings. What did we want to take with us and what did we need to throw away?

We looked at our letter collections. Andy’s letters from me were neatly filed in old shoe boxes. Each one was in its original envelope, and they were all in chronological order. My letters from Andy formed an untidy mixed-up heap in a grocery box. Some were in envelopes, some not. All our letters were there: three years’ worth. Should we keep the letters? We decided to throw them away.

I look back through the years, and part of me is sad we tossed away something that was so precious to us, all that time ago. I imagine rereading the letters and reliving those student days. Perhaps we were too hasty in our decision, throwing away a connection to those two young people, who were so impatient to be with each other for life. 

I don’t think Andy and I have written a single letter to each other since our university days. We've never been separated for more than a day or two at a time. As a married couple, we have been very blessed: We've never known the longing to be with each other when we can’t, the heartbreak of having to say goodbye, the pain of being somewhere we don’t really want to be. We haven’t needed to write to each other of our love, and our hope that time will pass quickly until we are reunited. All that belonged to another part of our lives, a part I don’t miss at all.

It's funny to think how slowly those three years of university life passed. We thought our wedding day would never arrive. Now we have been married for thirty years, and each year passes much too quickly. Slow down time! I want to savour every day with my beloved.

No, I am not upset we no longer have our letter collections. I don't really want to relive a time when Andy and I couldn't be together. And I don’t need those love letters to remind me of my husband's love. He is right here beside me, telling me all the time.

"Mum! There's a message on your mobile phone."

"It's from Dad," I say, as I begin to read:

Sue, How was your run this morning? Hope you have a good day. Miss you lots! Love Andy xxxxx.

"Just Dad checking in from work."

No love letters? Andy is still writing me love letters every day.

XXXXX: Love Letters because love letters always end in kisses.

Image: Andy and me on our engagement day. Wow! Didn't we look young?

Post a Comment

  1. Beautiful post. My husband and I had a long distance relationship for about nine months. That seemed like a long time.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joyce,

      I think time always passes so slowly when we're separated from the one we love. I can imagine how long that 9 months felt for you. Did you write letters or phone, or perhaps it was fairly recently and you texted each other? If mobile phones had been invented, Andy and I would have texted each other every chance we had!

      Thank you for your comment!

      Delete
  2. It was the title that drew me in this time :) So much of this story is identical to mine and my husband's! I left high school a year before him to go to university and we wrote to each other constantly, living for the weekends. We were engaged at ages 16 and 17 but kept it a secret for obvious reasons. We were discouraged from getting married for many years by family members - we were too young, it wouldn't last, we didn't have enough money. It was the biggest relief of my life when we finally married after 6 years of being together.
    Oh, and we threw out our letters too, mostly because we have changed together so much that reading them was like reading somebody elses letters. In other words, God has come into our lives in a major and wonderful way!
    He rings me from work every day just to say hi :)

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    Replies
    1. Kelly,

      I must have succeeded with my post title!

      You understand what I was saying, having lived a similar story! You certainly had to wait a long time before you could get married.

      I really didn't enjoy my university years. It was just a waiting time. I suppose we did learn something from it: We learnt we REALLY wanted to get married!

      Andy and I have changed a lot too. I can relate to your reasons for throwing away your letters. Yes, I didn't really want to relive those days either. I prefer the present time.

      Kelly, I think we must both be very blessed. You and your husband sound very happy. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

      Delete
  3. This is so lovely! Gosh, how time flies! I remember visiting you, in Aberystwyth, and Andy arriving on the Friday. I remember the strong winds, too.

    BTW you haven't changed much from that photo.

    Beautiful post, Sue:-)

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    Replies
    1. Vicky,

      Time does fly... when you're not watching the clock waiting for it to pass!

      The sea breezes were cold. Actually, Aberystwyth was a very cold place. I remember that winter when we got snowed in. I think the summers were nice, but we were never there then. I'd love to go back one day. Perhaps I should take a look at where I used to live using Google maps.

      I haven't changed much from the photo? You are a lovely sister! I think the kids would recognise me okay, but they'd want to know who the man is! Andy has certainly changed.

      Thank you for sharing my memories.

      Delete
  4. Beautiful. How blessed you both have been and are!

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    1. Nancy,

      You are so right: we have been greatly blessed. I don't really understand why. We didn't do anything special. Everything just turned out perfectly. And that was before I even thought of God. No doubt He was looking after me, even if I wasn't aware of Him.

      Delete
  5. How I understand you. My husband and were also told we were too young, we met in High School. We were more disobedient, as we married one and a half years after leaving Highschool and lived and studied together in Copenhagen. Now we've been married for 28 years. But we have had periods of living away form one another - only short periods, and after we were married. But, oh did we write a lot of letters in those short periods. I have saved some of them. (I am a save it all for coming days-type and my husband a throw it away-type, but here we agreed). Also it IS like reading somebody else's letter in your own handwriting. So much has happenend since then.
    Liike you I'm totally recognizable from way back when - only older looking, not changed that much, but my husband has changed. Like Andy I think it is the beard that does the big difference.
    May God grant you many years together yet.

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    Replies
    1. Uglemor,

      You were high school sweethearts too! I bet you don't regret marrying so young. I think I would have enjoyed being married young, living together and studying. My mind was always distracted when I was at university and I probably didn't work as well as I could have.

      Reading past correspondence can be fascinating. I keep a diary and enjoy reading past entries and reliving those days all over again. You must have happy memories, despite the separation, in your letters. Or maybe they are full of expressions of love?

      Beards... I think you are right. Also men tend to fill out and become broader as they mature.

      "May God grant you many years together yet." Thank you! I pray the same prayer for you and your husband.

      Delete
  6. Beautiful, Sue...thank you so much for sharing...

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    1. Ellen,

      Thank you. I know you have a beautiful young love story too.

      God bless!

      Delete
  7. How sweet, Sue. My husband and I were long distance for 3 months in the age of cel phones so I have no love letters but texts that got deleted. I did get a quick proposal out of it.

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    Replies
    1. Anabelle,

      Communications are so different these days. Now it's must easier to stay in touch with mobile or cell phones. If we'd had them, I'd probably have been using mine all hours of the day! Those days of having to wait in a queue to use a public phone, and then having to shove coin after coin into the slot, seem so far away.

      You were proposed to in a text message? Did I understand that right? How romantic!

      Delete
    2. No I didn't get proposed to in a text. I meant long distance sped up an engagement.

      Delete
    3. Anabelle,

      Silly me! I didn't think a text message proposal sounded right. I often get things in a muddle. It would make a good story though: shy suitor resorts to text message proposal!

      Delete
  8. Awww, what a lovely trip into the past with you!
    I love how you state that you really don't need the letters to remind you of your love....beautiful...
    My hubby and I used to give each other greeting cards for every occasion, even Hallloween, for heaven's sake.:) When we were moving some furniture in our bedroom recently, Kev found a stack of them in the wardrobe drawer from way before we were even married and rifled through them. (WHo knew back then that our kids would be reading our words to each other? yikes.....) your psot reminded me of that.
    But how bittersweet to read that you threw that out....good outlook!

    Have a great weekend, Sue:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris,

      We have a stack of greetings cards too! I'd forgotten about those. The old ones must be in a box in the garage somewhere. Kids love reading things from the days before they were born. They seem fascinated by our past. Our words must seem so young and romantic to our children!

      Are you planning on doing anything special with your cards? You could put together a scrapbook. I was looking at Monica's blog (@ Equipping Catholic Families) the other day. She has a beautiful collage collection of all her love letters.

      Collecting memorabilia is fun, but in the long run I don't think it matters if we throw stuff out. Even with Thomas, although I treasure his things, I know I could cope if I no longer had them. We still have the people and that's what's important.

      I hope you enjoy your Sunday too!

      Delete
  9. Aww, so cute! It would be nice to have those letters still, but it's great that you recognise you don't actually need them :D

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    1. Kellie,

      Your words are very true. We move on and although it's interesting to look back at the past, I think the present is much more important. Thank you for your comment!

      Delete
  10. That is so beautiful. I may be a sap, but that post just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Tina Marie,

      You are a true romantic like me! Thank you so much for reading my story. It's lovely to see you on my blog. I keep meaning to stop and say how pleased I am that we are now FB friends. Thank you for the invitation!

      Delete
  11. How sweet, Sue!! And how young and adorable you both were! :) Mark and I have never been separated, but this reminds me of my parents separation when I was baby, and Dad was in the Navy. Of course, I don't remember that time at all, but my mom still has all of the letters Dad wrote her, on ship stationary no less, (and Dad has hers as well), and mom kept them many, many years tied with a ribbon in her cedar chest. Recently though, she shredded many if not all of the letters. My parents are in their 60s now, and it occurred to my mom she didn't want my sisters and I reading their private letters to each other!! Hahaaaa!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan,

      Thank you so much for sharing your parents' love story. I can really understand your mother shredding her letters. Love letters are very private. I'd be so embarrassed if anyone read mine!

      I often think how difficult it is for defence force families, being separated for so long each year. It really is a great sacrifice.

      God bless!

      Delete
  12. Another wonderful post in this delightful series - thank you, Sue! I loved seeing your little map of Wales - I didn't know you studied there. I grew up in Penarth, near Cardiff. Perhaps I passed Andy in the street one time :-)
    In another of these posts you talk about posts competing with to be read in people's Readers (sorry, misquoting you I know). Well, I have hundreds in mine, but I always make a point of scrolling down to "S" and seeing what you've posted, first. I know your writing will be original and make me smile.
    C0rdie has been following Gemma-Rose's blog, too. I love it when she calls out to me while I'm cooking - "hey! listen to this!" and reads to me from one of Gemma-Rose's posts. They've been inspiring her to blog more.
    So - thank you, Elvis family, and congratulations on completing the A-Z challenge!
    Lucinda

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    Replies
    1. Lucinda,

      I didn't know you are Welsh! It's funny to think you and Andy could have been in Cardiff at the same time. Do you live on the south coast of England now? Devon, maybe?

      You are very kind reading my posts. Thank you! And your daughter reads Gemma-Rose's blog? I will tell her that. I don't know if she knows about your daughter's blog. I will have to do some investigating and point her in the right direction! Gemma-Rose has been having so much fun with the A-Z posts. Perhaps your family could do the challenge with us next year.

      Delete
  13. Congratulations and well done on completing your blog challenge! I read them all and enjoyed them immensely. It was so much fun to come on nearly every day and read a new entry, which all made me laugh, cry, smile or think (or all of those!) I love hearing about you and Andy's love story. I know you'll probably want a decent break- you're probably all "written out"- but I would really would love to read sometime about how you met and fell in love! What country is Andy from? I don't remember him having an accent but it's been a long time since I saw you all in person. And what inspired you to study in Wales? Are you Australian in nationality or from another country?

    It must have seemed like such a long time, waiting to be married. It makes me think of a quote from a movie: "When you find the person you want to be with for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to begin right away!"

    I love the idea that the "XXXXX" are the love letters. Such a sweet thought. Stephen loves to write me letters- for birthdays, Valentines Day, our anniversary. I keep them in my special draw- jewellery, journal, engagement ring (until I can fit it on my finger again!!) and Stephen's letters. He proves his love for me every day but I still love to hold on to those special notes!

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    Replies
    1. Jacinta,

      Thank you for sharing my A-Z posts. Everyone has been so kind and supportive. I thought readers would get fed up with me posting so often.

      Andy was born in England. I was as well, but I came to Australia when I was 7 or 8 and have been an Australian ever since. I met Andy when my parents took a trip to England. My dad had a job there and we stayed for a while. I was at school at the time when I met Andy. After school I could have come back to Sydney as I had a place at the University of NSW to study science. I chose to stay and do my degree at a university a little closer to Andy. It was still too far away though! The moment we graduated, we got married and returned to Australia.

      I am sure I will write more about that time but if you are interested, I touch on this story in my post Then, Now and For Always: http://www.sueelviswrites.com/2011/06/then-now-and-for-always.html

      I love the movie quote. It is so true!

      Stephen sounds like a true romantic. Keep your letters safe. There sound like real treasure!

      Delete
  14. Sue, what a wonderful post! You and your husband must have such a special friendship in addition to being spouses. It is obvious you all are so in love! : )

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    Replies
    1. Stephanie,

      I think you made such a good point: Spouses need to be good friends too. They need to share interests and support each other's separate passions, and have things to talk about. I guess Andy and I do that all the time!

      So lovely to swap comments! Thank you!

      Delete

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