You must wonder how it is that I could resist reading it all until now; two reasons. One is anticipated pain. I miss them very much; indeed, love them more than ever. When things happen: be they insights, or news which is bizarre, or funny; usually my first thought is for the joy of telling them. Reading the letters is something that I always assumed would make me heartsore and miserable. And the other thing is Privacy. I felt that it was intrusive for me to read my parent’s intimate correspondence with each other. It felt as though it would be a violation – by me – nobody else. Everybody else can read them, fine. Everybody else is not their child. There is a biblical injunction, “Look not upon thy father’s nakedness,” which seemed to apply somehow, and of course did not when I read all of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo without feeling like an intruder.
In May, something unexpected flipped in my head, or my heart. It was as if I had suddenly been given permission, and that this was to read the letters in a way that would be a far deeper experience than ordinary reading. So, I started on the journey and discovered that one can be heartsore, and yet, simultaneously happy. And I discovered that one can eavesdrop lovingly, respectfully, and that the result would be more love and more respect. I am glad I waited. Now that I am three times older than my parents were when they wrote these letters, age has become a lens of privileged understanding and experience through which I can watch these two marvelous young people unfolding.