Letter to Anyone

By Maria Montalvo | Mar 15, 2012

Hello. How are you? I hope all is well. Me? Well, I have been better.

I’m still all that I was before…in love and happy in my marriage, grateful for my job, so lucky to have my friends, and enchanted with a fantastic puppy. But things are different now.

On the one hand, everything that has happened has me completely confused, but on the other hand, I seem more in touch with myself. I still worry a lot but a little less than before.

That doesn’t make sense, does it?

You’d be surprised to hear that I have taken on a new challenge…talking to people.

Where I used to be somewhat annoyed by whoever would jabber next to me on the plane or at some gathering, I am trying to embrace it now.

My brother used to talk to everyone, the guy at the next car at the gas station, the woman in the seat next to us, the waiter at the restaurant.

He would hear the best stories, learn so much about “our fellow man.” I never realized how great it can be.

I talked to a guy at the airport the other day who turned out to be a good leftist like me (nice to find us out in the open).

He was also on his way home to be with his dad during heart bypass surgery.

I remember the night I flew home for my mom to have that surgery.

We talked about the moments of fear as you wait in the universally dingy waiting rooms and how you don’t realize you’re holding your breath until the doctor comes in and tells you everything is okay.

I didn’t tell him what just happened.

I was going to ask you for some advice. Do you know how to grieve?

I seem to be grieving alone, just as I do most things.

It’s not that I don’t talk about it. I try not to keep most things in anymore, but I find I don’t let myself think about things unless I am alone.

I don’t mean to put on the strong façade—I know I shouldn’t. How do you put it away?

Do you put it away intermittently throughout the day, in your pocket?

Do you put it in a drawer in your room and only bring it out from time to time?

Do you try to lock it in a closet?

I don’t seem to have the ability to decide when the façade comes and goes.

I am glad that I am expressing myself pretty clearly, but that’s when I want to.

I’m going on and on. I should be asking you about the family, what’s new with you, and telling you about the sailboats outside my window.

I love that on a given Saturday there are dozens on the Puget Sound bearing away and beating against the wind.

The colors of the sails are muted by the opaque grayish blue of the sky and water but the hulls are bright white. It’s beautiful.

Oh, and NPR is doing a great series about winter songs and what they mean to you.

The one I heard featured a song by Brandi Carlisle, “Dying Day,” and a couple who were trying to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia. They only had a few minutes with her before they were forced to leave her behind and wait to be notified that they were approved to come back and take her home.

They would listen to that song every day that winter of waiting and take solace in the words about missing someone so much.

I had to smile, and I do love that song.

I think her song “Before It Breaks” elicits winter even more, the lack of color all around us.

The first few lines are resonating with me these days:


Around here, it's the hardest time of year / Waking up, the days are even gone / The collar of my coat / Lord help me, cannot help the cold / The raindrops sting my eyes / I keep them closed / But I'm feelin' no pain / I'm a little lonely and my quietest friend / Have I the moonlight? Have I let you in? / Say it aint so, say I'm happy again / / I'm all right. Don't I seem to be?


Well, I suppose I should stop writing and do something on this chilly Saturday, something worthwhile.

I promised myself I would, but some days it’s harder than others.

I might have to put the façade on today.

Much love.



Comments (1)
Posted by: Maru Gonzalez | Mar 17, 2012 09:59

Hi Maria,


Maru here, daughter of your cousin Tony. Just wanted to drop in and say that your post really resonated with me. A few months ago, I decided to take on a challenge of my own: running my first marathon. The race is tomorrow and I will be sure to add "Before It Breaks" to my playlist. When it comes on, I will think about you and the beauty of your words and I will draw inspiration from your stength. 

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