return to sender

return to sender

Last week, I sent a holiday card to an estranged cousin. I’d hoped he would receive it, knowing I wish him well. And maybe open a dialogue of sorts, maybe reconnect me to his sister.

A story bloomed in my head from all the possibility.

Yesterday, I got the card back. The envelope was stamped, “Not deliverable as addressed–Return to sender.”

This is not the first time I have sent him written correspondence, even though I’ve never heard a response. Yet this is the first time I’ve had a letter returned.

What happened to the other letters? Did he even receive them? Or did a complete stranger receive them, open them up and read them, not having the heart to tell me they’d never reached their destination? Did he move?

Though I rarely dare to do so, I looked up the phone number on file for him, and dialed.  The phone number is disconnected.

We are now completely estranged again.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “return to sender

  1. Richard

    I never really considered him to be estranged from us. I don’t know that he would have any harsh feelings for whatever reason. In fact, we just haven’t had any contact, mainly through inertia and inaction on everyone’s part for years. I mean, I haven’t tried to reach out to any maternal cousins over the years, but that doesn’t mean we are estranged — just means I am too lazy to do it, and I’m a little sheepish because my Korean language skills suck.

    No biggie. I’m sure everyone will get in touch someday. Maybe it’s just not as high a priority for them because they have so many relatives in Korea, but we just don’t have very many here in the States. Keep the faith.

  2. i’ve had similar cousin experiences. when my uncle died in 1992, we tried to find his son. the last thing we knew he was in jail in upstate ny. the jail had a forwarding address. the woman there knew him but said he had moved away. she had no forwarding address…

    amazing that jails keep better records than ex girlfriends.

    forwarding orders expire, so there is a chance the letter you sent to the address in the past was forwarded, and in the meantime it has expired and now you get the return to sender yellow banner.

    i recently had a discussion with a friend who is a college professor about why people connect online when they have physical families, neighbors, others around them that they can connect to. your situation reminds me that sometimes just because we share blood we don’t share connection or interest and the effort to maintain such a relationship is draining and futile. but still we want to connect. i tried for years to have a closer relationship with my aunt and cousins and have always been kept at arms length by them.

    christmas cards are all we really exchange anymore.

  3. Richard: I consider them estranged. They want nothing to do with us, particular his sister. He does not return calls, he does not return letters. Our fathers do not talk. Our aunts are incredibly sparing with data, and all the data comes at a price. OTOH, I am in fairly consistent contact with our other cousins where there are no such outstanding issues.

    christine: It is just sort of weird and awful how distance occurs, isn’t it?

  4. Eve

    Jade, in part I think it’s “weird and awful how distance occurs” because on one level we know we’re connected; on another, we’re obviously separated. The tension between opposites can feel unbearable, whether it is in relationships to others or to oneself.

  5. chaesq

    This makes my heart clench for you. But naively or not (I prefer the term “hopefully”), I still hold out prayers of hope for the future for you.

    And thank you for your encouragement to me …

  6. Eve: That is a good obervation–we can never really be 100% connected and any reminders of that are quite scary!

    chaesq: It will be okay–and it will be okay for you, too. 🙂

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