I’m Writing You A Love Letter

But I Don’t Know Where To Start

Photo Credit: Pexals, Ricardo Esquivel

“A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear One,

I have the house all to myself.

Honey, did you hear me? I have the house all to myself!

Yes, I’m talking to you. What? You think I’m crazy. Well, you wouldn’t be totally wrong.”

I realize this is my post-traumatic pandemic self talking, but honestly, I haven’t been alone in my house for years, and that’s simply tragic.

Now, I won’t bore you with how much I love being home alone, but it’s like going to the gas station and filling my tank, or even better, plugging into one of those lightning chargers, and suddenly I’m resurrected! 

When all those kids Larry sired started school, and he worked for a living, I had an empty house to myself for a wee bit almost every day (except during the summer, which was a total snafu). I came to realize that an empty house is the only thing that is able to fill me. I would putz around, tidy things up, dust trinkets, listen to MY music, or more often than not, I sat there as if a Bohemian monk enjoying the silence. I would spend time with my own thoughts, try them on like sandals, walk around, see if they squeezed my toes.

It was marvelous, essential, a good fit, if you will.

As the years flew by, I snagged a job at Notre Dame, Larry still went to the office or traveled (with the itinerary left under a magnet on the refrigerator), and Shaggy had the place to himself. 

That’s where the adage “you lucky dog” came from. 

But I only worked on campus three days a week, which left two whole days for me to putz, write, ponder, and annoy my sister.

Anyhoo, since the pandemic hit, Larry and I both retired, and bye, bye precious hours of beloved solitude. 

Here’s the news flash. 

Larry needs to run up to the lake to check on the house after a recent storm. The lake house loves to leak. We patch, she leaks, it’s as if she’s incontinent. 

The plan is for him to drive up to the lake this morning, repair any damage, if there is any, rake a few leaves, watch the game, and return in the morning. 

Now, if you’ve connected the dots, this leaves me alone in the house for twenty-four hours. Practically an entire lifetime, and I’m claiming it as my Christmas miracle. I admit I’m giddy with excitement, visualizing pots of warm coffee, a computer on my lap, and not a distraction in sight. Not to brag, but I’m on excellent terms with my solitude. 

And I’ll still have tomorrow to wrap, decorate, and prep for my upcoming dinner party! It’s perfect, and I admit, my downfall may have been mentioning my plans to God. You know how she likes to stir the pot, especially when we’re nicely simmering.

In the blink of an eye, my short-lived fantasy morphed into a mini-ephialte, and of course, I’m compelled to share the tale in annoying detail. 

It all started with an early morning dentist appointment. Not my favorite thing in the world, but like church, it’s considered a sin if you don’t go every six months. And I’m a rule follower. As I’m leaving the house, I notice Larry’s bags are lined up by the front door. I kiss him goodbye and remind him to call me when he gets to the lake.

I don’t want to gloat, but I have no cavities. 

In fact, I’ve only had one cavity in my entire life. It was when I was pregnant with one of the kids. The problem is that if you are low on a vitamin or two and you’re harboring a child in the womb, they’ll just take it from another source. They’ll tap into your iron supply or suck the enamel right off your teeth while you’re sleeping. Little parasites.

So after my teeth were spit-shined, the doctor came in to admire my chops. I’m sort of famous in the dental community for my resistance to decay. Get it? Okay, moving along. While the doctor is tugging mercilessly on my tongue for a better look at my pearly whites, he is also browsing the X-rays which they claim are necessary every two years. 

The doc stops talking when he flips to the third image mid-sentence, and the room is plunged into an awkward silence. Even the technician, who talks nonstop while she is cleaning my teeth, is at a loss for words.

I say with as much clarity as possible, considering the doctor still has a hold of my tongue, “Isth slumpthig wog?”

Doc responds, but it’s as if he’s talking to himself, “oh no, no, I’m just…” Then he says to the technician, “show me the images from the last six years.”

Silence. He releases my tongue and moves in for a closer inspection of the X-rays. Continued silence.

Me, “this does not seem good.”

So he elevates my chair, which had my feet resting higher than my heart, looks me in the eye, and says, “I want you to see a specialist. Today.

“What? Do I have a cavity?”

He looks confused for a second and says, “No, no, it’s…”

“Thank God, because that would have been front-page news.”

He smiles like an indulgent father and says, “you have a spot on your jaw, it could be nothing, but I want to have it checked out. I’m going to call my oral surgeon and send him the X-rays right now. I’ll have him fit you in…” and he takes off down the hall to make some calls.

I’m a little stunned. It’s Christmas. I was going to be home alone, trying on new thoughts, and now I’ll be returning to an empty house with a spot on my jaw, and Larry is halfway to the lake. 

I start peppering the technician with questions, but she’s gone mute, and she hands me a little bag with a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste as she’s slipping out of the room,

I stumble to the lobby. My dentist shoves a business card in my hand and says, “call this number. They’ll fit you in today.” Then he adds, “it could be nothing. We just want to be thorough.”

“Merry Christmas.”

I drive home with a mild surge of fear coursing through my veins, gently exploring my jaw with my fingertips. I feel nothing unusual. I mentally remind myself to pluck that stray chin hair I’ve been ignoring for weeks. Aging issues. 

The first thing I notice when I roll up our street is Larry’s truck is still in the driveway, and admittedly, for once, I’m thrilled not to be alone.

Stepping over the bags still lined up by the front door, I can see he’s in the office, doing God knows what.

I tell him about the appointment, highlighting the no cavities, while lowlighting the spot on my jaw.

He says, “I’m going with you.”

“What about the incontinent lake house?” He gives me the look, “she can wait. What time is the appointment?”

“This afternoon.” Can I just say waiting is unpleasant?

The clock moves deliberately slow when you watch it but shockingly fast when you’re not paying attention. I believe that’s what Einstein was trying to solve with math when clearly, it was an observational issue. My two cents.

I drag the overwrought husband with me to my meeting with the oral surgeon at the appointed time. Larry has convinced himself that this is it. I’m kicking the proverbial bucket, taking my final bow.  And while they’re dealing with me, he’s outside pacing in the courtyard as if a schizophrenic who is having trouble making sense of the situation. I’m not sure, but he might need shock therapy.

So they wrap me in a heavy apron and stick me in a machine that whirls around my head like a drone while it takes images of my jaw in 3D. I return to the chair in my assigned room, and the doctor enters right after me. A little too quickly for my liking.

He says right off the bat, “your jaw is fine. You have some bone loss from the braces you once had, and the bones have shifted as you age. It’s normal. And that’s what created the shadow that Dr. Fong saw. But what I’m really concerned about is your sinuses! They look horrible.”

“I just got over a nasty cold.”

“My advice, take an antihistamine when you get home.”

“So I get to keep my chin.”


“And I’m not going to die.”

“Not today.”

“Well, my husband will be pleased.”

When I find Larry wearing out the tread on his shoes, I give him the good news, he’s a little emotional, and right there on the spot, he decides we need to celebrate with a dinner out. 

I should have a near-death experience more often! 

So we share a plate of mama’s meatloaf at the Greek restaurant up the street. I realize meatloaf is an odd choice at a Greek establishment, but it is the owner’s private recipe, and it’s my kind of comfort food. 

He left this morning at the break of dawn for the lake.

Honey, did you hear me? I have the house ALL TO MYSELF.

I spent the morning cleaning the kitchen, wrapping gifts, decorating the tree, and prepping for the dinner party I’m hosting tomorrow. And I still had time to participate in my granddaughter’s Christmas party at Bagby Elementary, the same school my kids attended. 

When I got home, I lit a fire, played some Kenney G in the background, and wrote you a love letter that I didn’t know how to start.

If you think about it, a writer writes alone, the reader reads alone, and this means we’re together, enmeshed in the same words wherever we might be. I don’t know why, but that makes me smile with a fully functional chin.

Larry found no leaks at the house. He drove all the way back home on the same day. I heard him walking through the door as I was finishing these final thoughts.

Wishing you all who celebrate Christ a very Merry Christmas, and to those who celebrate the light a most sacred Hanukkah and a Heartwarming Day to those who simply celebrate life and having the house all to themselves. As the days grow shorter and it seems as if the bottom has fallen out of our world, may we bring comfort and joy to each other, because if I’ve learned anything this week, it’s that the presence of love has a magic all its own.

Hugs and love, C

I’m Living in the Gap, dealing with life, chin up!


Leave a Comment

  1. Oh my… Glad to read all is well with the jaw! That was quite a jaw-dropping read (sorry… 😉🙃)

    I think you’ve read me long enough to know that I cherish precious few things in life as much as home alone time. When they go camping and I’m home alone it’s a type of bliss that’s indescribable.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Cheryl!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Claudette! Love the touch of humor, made my jaw smile! And yes, time alone is worth its weight in gold. Like you, I crave it. This week has been so crazy and distracting I’m amazed I was able to put two words together. But I have to say, I’m ever so thankful for my thorough dentist! He’s a jewel. And a favorable outcome with my new favorite body part! The chin. Merry Christmas to you and yours, wrapping you in love and hugs, C


  2. So glad the love letter had a happy ending!
    I cherish those days when i get the house to myself, and there are not enough of them. I eat when I want to eat, dance when I want to dance, play the music I want, and enjoy the pleasure of my own company.
    Merry Christmas. I wish you a warm and wonderful week filled with love and laughter, good food, and really meaningful gifts, tangible and fleeting. XXOO

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Dorothy, I too am forever grateful for the happy ending. My husband just said to me, “so I need to leave the house every day?” I said, “not every day but once in a while.” I’m like you, I need solitude, like I need air and water. It sustains me. Extroverts never understand. Merry Christmas Dorothy, thank you for the warm wishes, and I wish the same love, laughter, deliriously good food, and meaningful moments find you during the holidays. Wrapping you in love and hugs my friend, C


    1. I decided the jaw is a rather beautiful body part! It’s how we smile and eat and talk! My gratitude runneth over for the fortunate results! Merry Christmas Crystal, pass on the good wishes to your clan, wrapping you all in love, C


    1. I admit, this one had me worried too! But I am ever so pleased with the results and that I have a dentist who doesn’t mess around when it comes to my jaw! It makes me realize how important our health is and how it can change so unexpectedly. Hope Ollie, you and Julie are feeling better. Wrapping you all in love, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. C, do you know how much I love you and think about you? This is my love letter to you. First, my heart dropped when I heard “spit on jaw”…then I sighed with relief. I’m so happy you’re ok!!!!! I want nothing but peace, good health, and happiness for you! Merry Christmas!! I love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my Karla, I love you too, and think about you all the time. If anything this little scare made me realize how quickly life can change, but also how precious is the gift of life. I’m holding you in my prayers, asking for God’s hand to always be upon you, for you to be surrounded by peace and joy my friend. Merry Christmas. I love you, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, C. I FEEL you thinking of (is that weird?). I think of funny things and think of you or how you’d react or what you say. I remember all your adventures and your precious family. Life has flipped on a dime for me and it is such a gift. I count every blessing! I feel your love and am thinking of you and what a wonderful Christmas I bet you’ll all have! I love you so much!! 💚💚🎄🎄


  4. Ugh- I didn’t like waiting while I read the few paragraphs to get to the part where everything was ok. Those hours you waited must have been grueling. Glad they got you in same day! And hey, you got a riveting story out of it, although I think that has more to do with your talent than your lost home alone day. That was truly a tragedy, but I’m glad it was the only loss. And Larry’s presence turned out to be a blessing. Great story! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merry Christmas Mama, thank you for joining me in the fear, the waiting, and the joyful results. It made me realize how quickly life can change and how important our health is to our peace and happiness. I still enjoy a little solitude once in a while but I am eternally grateful for all the family that surrounds me and brings me such joy. May that sweet baby Mary is about to bestow on the world, bring us all peace and eternal love. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susanne, it was one of those totally unexpected situations, and I am not only grateful for a careful dentist but a fully functional jaw! Wrapping you in love, and may we all find a wee bit of solitude when we need it! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was the best love letter! I was holding my breath waiting to see for the doctor found and I’m so glad it was because of your braces. God knew to have Larry at home when you returned and you still were able too have time alone!!!! YAYYY!
    I love my alone time as well.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and I hope your sinuses are all cleared up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bella! I so agree, God knew I needed Larry with me, and yet he still provided me some time alone! I’m ever so thankful for my conscientious dentist, who would not let something go just because it’s Christmas, and inconvenient. Hope your Christmas was fabulous, surrounded by your children, and loved ones. Ours was lovely and the sinuses cleared up just in time. Happy New Year to you and yours, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We love you! Years ago if I didn’t get solitude during the day I would get it in the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping. Being retired is a blessing, especially because Andy drives up to the mountains almost every day. And when he’s here we have a nice place for him to use his computer and sit and read. So we both have plenty of alone time and still get to interact in the evening for a while. At our ages it won’t last forever, so we don’t take it for granted.

    Have a wonderful Christmas. I’m glad you have such a great dentist and that the news was good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely pattern you have for your day that incorporates everyone’s needs! I do love being retired but I miss my alone time for sure! Wrapping you in love and hugs, Merry Christmas! 🎄💕


    1. Thank you LaDonna, I think people who are creative actually need time alone to think, invent, and experiment with our ideas. It’s like being pregnant. You just have to sit and put your feet up once in a while, let the idea mature, form in the womb of the mind. Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year! Hugs, C


  7. Whew! You really know how to keep a reader on the dang hook lol Glad you’re okay, that you had your solace in an empty house (I totally get that and the reason why), and that you’re (hopefully) having an amazing holiday ❤


    1. Hi Kathy, it’s been a whirlwind, as the holidays seems to be, and I’m grateful I wasn’t dealing with a rather severe health issue. I’m finally sitting in a quiet space and catching up on reading and comments. Thank you for going with me to the doctor with me and holding our breath together. I so appreciate the company. Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debby, I’m ever so grateful I get to keep the old, hairy chin. I’m sort of attached! Thanks for accompanying me from fear to grace. I felt your presense. Wishing you a decadent New Year, and just for you, I pray for you to feel all the love that surrounds you in 2023. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw, thanks so much Cheryl for the beautiful wishes. I love the sound of a decadent New Year! Wishing all the best for you too!! And since your book is now available, I will share my review for it in January to help spread the word! The Zon won’t allow me to share a review there because of the editorial, but I will share on Goodreads and my Sunday book review. New Year hugs my lovely friend. ❤ xx


    1. Hi Rebecca, it’s such an interesting observation you make, “suspense writer,” because life is so unpredictable and I suppose those of us who attempt to capture our lives with words are simply engaging with the mystery, and trying to unravel the story (I realize that is a run on sentence and I don’t have time to fix it). I think our lives are not so much a mystery to solve, but to live out in love. Much love to you and yours, Happy New Year, and let’s enjoy the enigmas of 2023! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A song I’d never even heard of before plus a mashup of Xmas movies, many of which I’d also never seen. At the very least, I now want to see ALL the holiday movies starring Tim Allen and Kurt Russell as Santa! White Xmas has always been a staple of my annual holiday viewing, solo or otherwise but usually the former even pre-divorce. Now I have some ideas for creating the new holiday traditions that I now pretty desperately need!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue, I love that idea! I’ve seen almost every movie in that clip. The song is from the series of movies called Home Alone. They’re adorable and entertaining. I especially love watching The Family Man, The Family Stone, and It’s a wonderful life at Christmas along with White Christmas. My grandkids love the Santa Clause Chronicles which I also enjoy but mostly being snuggled up with them. Here’s to new “desperately needed,” traditions. Wishing you a lovely New Year and may 2023 be your best year yet! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, you had me pacing about the spot on your jaw as well. Thank goodness they could get you in that day. And I love Larry’s reaction to go with you. What a beautiful couple you are.

    And I too cherish the time I’m alone in the house. It really is special. So thanks for the love letter and the Christmas wishes. Hope you had a great one and wishing you the best in 2023!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s sort of crazy how life can throw you the most unexpected curve balls! It certainly reprioritizes what you thought was important, necessary, nonnegotiable. My to do list got tossed aside without a thought until life was once again in balance and my jaw was secured. But seriously, our health allows us to do everything, if not simply to enjoy the people we love. It seems as if avoiding illnesses has been a full time job in 2022, let’s hope 2023 is a breath of fresh air. Hugs to you, C

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad your dentist is thorough and that the spot was only a shadow, and that your husband clearly adores you, Cheryl. I LOVE being home alone, especially overnight, which happens about once every 5 years. Wishing you a beautiful new year with periods of rejuvenating aloneness when you need them and fun-filled adventure sprinkled in between.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana, Happy New Year! And yes, I love my dentist, he’s amazing, but that husband of mine is the best. As you can imagine I was thrilled they found nothing out of the ordinary. That would have put a damper on the holidays. I hope you had a rejuvenating rest and you’re ready to be back at it. I sort of love all the potential I feel at the beginning of the year, all the possibilities yet to be discovered, the joy that will undoubtedly visit us, but also the challenges that will make us grow, like it or not. It’s expansive. Wishing you all this and more, I look forward to seeing what you do next! Hugs my friend, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, no one was more thrilled than me, except maybe my husband. He’s rather fond of my chin! It’s also good to know I’m not the only one who enjoys time alone! Cheers to 2023, hugs, C


  11. Hi Cheryl,
    I really enjoyed the intro to this post. I was looking forward to you writing about how when blessed with a day all to yourself, you realized that your life is full of wonderful people and being alone isn’t that great. Then you distracted me. I have to admit that ephialte is not a word that I use very often (like in never,) so I had to do a deep dive into the meaning and etymology. This of course led me down the rabbit hole of the Battle of Thermopylae and all that fun stuff. By the time I returned I was totally blind-sided by your dental disaster. The words “you have a ……(insert spot, bump, nodule, small growth etc. I know them all,)” sent a chill down my spine. The thought of you having disfiguring surgery, radiation, chemo etc., etc., was not a good thought. I was quite relieved when it turned out to be a false alarm. Note to author, please start this kind of post with a warning that everything will be alright, to prevent your loyal readers from experiencing unnecessary angst.
    Super glad you are fine. Glad that you didn’t spend Christmas alone, really glad Larry won’t have to spend the next Christmases alone.
    I totally loved the Darlene Love montage. She is a national treasure. Loved the Oscar-winning documentary film “20 Feet from Stardom” (2013), for which she won a Grammy Award.
    Of course, seeing the accompanying video brought me joy, but it also makes me ask the proverbial question, what are your favorite Christmas movies? Mine are:
    Die Hard
    Trading Places
    Home alone
    And this of course leads to the great debate regarding whether Die Hard is truly a Christmas movie.

    Anyhow, as I was reading this post, I came up with the perfect most beautiful song (shortly after you found out about the spot mind you.) It became meaningless when the spot gratefully turned into a false alarm.
    So, I will torture you with it anyway.

    Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas.
    Hugs to all.
    PS Even though I have feelings of love for you, Larry, Nancy, Mac, Sue and Jim, I have trouble expressing it. Perhaps gender bias? Hope you all know the love is there.


    1. Hi Mike, Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2023? A whole new year to enjoy. Whoot Hoot! I have to say I WILL NEVER EVER MAKE A DENTAL APPOINTMENT IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER ever again! I don’t care if I have a tooth ache. NEVER! But I am enamored by my sweet dentist and his conscientious approach to my health. He rocks. No matter how you look at it, I was lucky, and Larry aged about three years in those few hours. I still love spending time with myself, undistracted, free to play with my own thoughts. It’s heavenly but only in small doses. And my sister especially did not enjoy the love letter, the spot on the chin, or the prospect of life without her shadow, me. I’m sitting here in my chair up at the lake, Larry and I arrived late last night, the Goudreau’s are up for the first time in a month and insisted we join them. Or maybe we leaped at the opportunity to spend the weekend together. It’s been a busy month for all of us. I woke up early, all alone, made some coffee and found your comment waiting for me. I read it slowly. Laughed at your exploration of the word ephialte, I wanted to find something different than the age old word nightmare and that fit the bill. Sorry to drag you through the scary spot, the 3D images, and my distraught husband but I suppose that’s how I process this life. In story, with the ones I love, and the formate of the love letter took on a life of its own. Well, I am so looking forward to 2023. I’m excited for the adventures we will enjoy, hopefully some new memories our families will share, and maybe some unexpected joy will visit us. We’re headed to Portugal in a few weeks to celebrate Tony’s birthday. Looks like Julie and Kelley will be joining us in Lisbon! I’m pretty excited. It’s time to open our new calendars and figure out when you’ll be joining us at the lake!!! And thanks for the sweet note at the end, I indeed know the love is there! Hugs, Cheryl


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