subject line: you are not alone

 

Singapore

Four weeks ago, my pen pal wrote me a letter. They wrote about museum trips, a new friend, their favourite movie that they would love for me to watch, and I thought that was it. Another letter, happy as ever from a person who always seemed to be sunshine-level happy. I almost missed the loose-leaf in the envelope, it was so thin and see-through under a desk light. They asked me about self-harm and what they could do to deal with it.

I’d never known that this would be a topic we would talk about. I thought they were always going to be happy with who they were and what they wanted in life, but suddenly there was evidence to say otherwise. I should have known, you know? I’ve been writing letters non-stop for over a year and only now do I realize how little of their heart I’ve actually seen. They were the first pen pal to write back to me. They made me believe in the friendship of strangers when I’d only ever been a skeptic. I wonder if they know this.
More than anything, I’m proud that they managed to send a letter that heavy, because it’s not easy to put the deepest parts of yourself in an envelope and mail it over two continents into the hands of someone who’s never seen you or even really known you. But here we are. To my dear friend: In case I didn’t say it clearly enough, in case you still doubt it, I do care. I care a lot; enough to say it to as many people willing to read this and so you know this must be true. You still have so many movies to watch and to tell me about, a thousand more museums to go through with a million other friends, a book to write after you’ve walked the whole globe. And so it goes that I would wish that you never be unhappy, and that you fulfil all the dreams you have and then some, that you’ll talk about your worries with me as many times as you need. I hope you believe me when I say I would drop anything to write back, to call back, to write you another 100 pages of letters until you are certain that you are not alone anymore. I wish you all the happiness in the world.

To my friend and oldest pen pal: If my letter has yet to reach you, please know that I hope you’re okay.