Letters for a Lifetime
Warning: Pretty specific spoilers. It helps if you've seen the episode.
Disclaimer: "Doc" is not mine. It is produced by Dave Alan Johnson & Gary R. Johnson. No infringement intended.
Spoilers: Men in Tights.
Summary: What if that letter Clint gave Nancy (in "Men in Tights") was not the last. What if she'd responded?
Archive: i2eye Fan Forum
Challenge: i2eye Valentine Challenge 2010 – option 4: #2 and #3. Tied for the category Best Love Letter (Option #2).
A/N: Seeing as it's Valentine's Day tomorrow, I figured I'd post this story now. :) Enjoy!
Finished: 28th of February, 2010
Wow, and here I was thinking I knew you pretty well too. Guess you're not the only one who can be surprised by the other. Who would have ever thought doctor Clint Cassidy would be writing a letter by hand without his laptop being broken. I must say, it was a welcome surprise though, so thank you for the letter.
At first I thought it would be a long time before I'd read a letter that would come close to Alexander's letters to Devora. I was wrong. As much as I was able to get caught up in the correspondence from Alexander to his wife, I found nothing could top a letter from one of my best friends to me. Especially knowing you prefer using e-mail. I suppose it helps we don't need stamps for cross-hallway snail mail though.
I want to thank you again for helping me find Devora, and later helping me convince Walter not to give up on his and Corinna's unborn child. It all brought it home again that, even though medical science is improving continually, it can never measure up to God's power. When my father first told me about, as you put it, my 'close call', I realised how this 'advanced' science could have ended my life before I'd even left my mom's womb. I guess we don't stop and realise often enough how grateful we ought to be for simply being alive. I know I don't. Luckily though, the Lord will remind us, through a situation like we had this week, or through the actions or words of a friend.
I don't know if you're aware of this, but… often you are that friend. Thank you.
… And for someone claiming not to know me that well, you sure know a lot of things most would not know. Like my blood type, my shoe size, my age. And you'd better keep that last one a secret!
Well, my hand is starting to tire – note to self: practice writing longer texts than grocery lists – so I guess I'll have to end this letter soon. There's just one thing left that I want to say. I'm very glad to be in this place at this time with you too, and looking forward to learning more about you.
She frowned at first as she was reading the letter. What was this? Her eyes lit up as realisation dawned, and quickly she picked up the next sheet of paper and unfolded it. Just then she heard her name being called. Without taking her eyes off the page, she responded. "I'm coming!"
For a moment she looked at the bundle of paper in her lap. Coming to a quick decision, she rose from the floor, and with the bundle in her hand, she hurried off the stairs. Once downstairs, she quickly took her seat at the kitchen table. Just in time! She'd put the bundle in her lap once again, not wanting to get food stains on it, nor wanting to put it aside elsewhere.
She waited until after they had prayed, and everyone had food on their plates. As usual, conversation revolved around what everyone had been up to that day, and plans for the next day. She waited to make her move until she was asked the same question.
"I was just searching for some pictures, up in the attic."
"Were you looking for something in specific?" her mother asked curiously, while giving her brother a stern look for trying to pass on a couple of his Brussels sprouts to his younger sister.
"Not really. I was just curious." Her friend, Suzanne, had told her she had discovered a couple of boxes full of old family pictures in their basement. When Suzanne had asked her parents about them, she had gotten some interesting stories.
"Did you find some?" her father picked up on the conversation.
"Not yet… but that's not actually the point. I did find something else!"
"What did you find, Esther?" Sarah asked, looking up from her plate, hence missing how her brother managed to sneak another couple of Brussels sprouts onto her plate. Esther pulled the bundle of papers from her lap and held them up in the air.
"These!" she said triumphantly. With a look at her plate, which seemed to contain more Brussels sprouts than before, Sarah suspiciously looked to her side, but Boaz's gaze was firmly settled on his own plate, trying not to draw attention to himself.
Nancy looked at what her eldest daughter was holding, but couldn't discern much, other than that it was made of paper. Clint in the meantime reached over and swapped the plates of Boaz and Sarah. With a sigh, Boaz gave up.
"They're letters!" Esther added. Having resigned himself to eating those green balls, Boaz no longer saw a reason to be quiet and asked, "So? There are twenty-six of them in the alphabet."
"Not those kind of letters!" Esther said annoyed.
"Well, what's so special about these letters?" Nancy asked.
"They're handwritten, and they're yours… from ages ago."
That got the attention from all people around the table.
"Handwritten letters?" Boaz asked, his eyebrow raised in a manner that was rather reminiscent of his father. "That's so-"
"Romantic," Sarah sighed. Boaz rolled his eyes and said, "I meant old-fashioned."
Meanwhile Nancy had received the bundle that she now recognised as letters, and she was quickly scanning the first few letters. A smile appeared on her face and seemed to settle there. Then she raised her head to see three expectant faces, and one amused. She focussed on the latter. "They're from when I found Alexander's letters to Devora," she explained. Clint grinned. "The letters that started our own correspondence…" he said.
"Stampless correspondence!" Nancy interrupted, a giggle escaping her lips.
"Cross-hallway snail mail," Clint added, grinning widely. When they saw the three confused expressions of their children, they couldn't help but smile.
"Just what? I mean, when… What are you talking about?" Boaz asked.
"When your mom and I weren't married yet, we were living across the hallway from each other. One day your mom found Russian letters in a desk. She had them translated, then found out they were love letters. We discovered the man had been suffering from a genetic disease. We decided to search for the woman to whom the letters belonged, because her daughter might have had the disease too. Well, to make a long story short, we found them, some other things happened, and I ended up writing your mom a letter," Clint explained.
"And I responded," Nancy added. Esther perked up. "That's the one I read! Makes more sense now though. I didn't see the first one from Dad though," she added with a frown. Nancy nodded.
"That's because I have it tucked away in my Bible."
Even Clint looked up in surprise at that one. Nancy blushed a little, feeling slightly silly for having kept the letter there for so long. When she had first read it, she had been touched. It may not have been a love letter, but there had been a few sentences that had given her hope she had something special with this country doctor after all. It had certainly given her food for thought. But the most important reason was that the letter had made her realise how much she trusted Clint, and how she hoped they would continue on their journey together for a long time.
"Wow, Dad, I didn't know you could write love letters!" Sarah exclaimed.
"Must have been pretty special," Esther said cheekily.
"It was special," Nancy confirmed, then added, "but it wasn't a love letter."
"Why didn't you use e-mail?" Boaz cut in, not understanding why anyone would willingly write something by hand – especially not something like a letter.
"Because that wouldn't be romantic, stupid!" Sarah said.
"Esther," came the warning voice from her father, and immediately her face became one of complete innocence. "Yes?"
The raised eyebrow told her she hadn't fooled her father, so she sighed. "Sorry Dad. Sorry Boaz."
"And Boaz, the point was to do it the old-fashioned way," Clint answered his son's question. "Now, I think this topic has been discussed enough for now."
"Can I still read the rest?" Esther asked. Clint and Nancy exchanged a look. Clint shrugged, he didn't mind. For a while after the initial exchange, they had continued to write each other letters – mostly short ones, only occasionally longer ones. The more serious ones usually had one of them coming over to the other for a midnight chat on Clint's couch. It wasn't out of the ordinary – they had done that before – but through the letters, they had unconsciously forced themselves to order their thoughts… or found they couldn't. Slowly, they had gotten to know each other on a much deeper and personal level than they had before. They knew what made the other tick, what worried them, what made them glad.
Finally Nancy came to a decision. "How about we read them together? I'd like to re-read them, and that way you can ask questions if you don't understand something."
The argument was a valid one, because they had often referred to their day-to-day lives, without stating exactly what it was they were referring to. That's what you got when your lives ended up being so intertwined. They'd worked at the same clinic, lived in the same apartment building, had the same friends… the things they hadn't both encountered were often discussed during the way to or from the clinic, or while they had dinner.
Esther seemed happy with the arrangement, and the discussion moved on to Boaz's soccer practice schedule. Soon after, dinner was finished.
Later that evening, Nancy went ahead to their bedroom while Clint was locking the door and checking up on the kids. As she turned on the light, she suddenly noticed a piece of paper lying on her pillow. She smiled.
On the one hand those letters seem to be written a lifetime ago, on the other hand it feels like only yesterday. I remember that, during that time, I was starting to become more and more aware of how deep my feelings for you ran. Now, having been married to you for almost seventeen years, and watching our kids grow up, I am fully aware of how deep those feelings run. You're a part of me. My other half. And yet, I didn't know you still kept that first letter close by. Which just goes to show, I still don't know everything about you.
Like I said in that particular letter: 'As well as I may think I know you sometimes, I realise at other times how much I don't know you at all. But I look forward to learning. Taking that next step is always the most exciting part of every journey.'
I still look forward to learning. For the rest of our lives, together on that journey. I know that the Lord has guided us on that journey so far, and He'll continue to guide us through the rest.
Like I wrote then 'No matter what happens in the future, I'm glad to be in this place at this time with you.'
I love you!
Nancy felt tears well up in her eyes. How he did it, she didn't know, but her husband still managed to surprise her. Hearing a soft sound behind her, she turned around to find Clint standing right behind her.
"I see you found the note," Clint said softly. Nancy nodded, still too touched to form a coherent sentence. Instead, she slipped her arms around his back, and kissed him. "I love you too," she whispered finally, when they parted for air.
"That's good," Clint said quietly, "'cause in case you haven't noticed, we're kinda married."
Nancy rolled her eyes, but gave her husband a brilliant smile. "And planning to be for a long time."
"Absolutely," Clint confirmed, kissing her again.
The letter would be placed with the other one. But no letter could replace a personal telegram…