I pick up a lot of books second hand. You never know what you're going to find at a yard sale, a thrift store, the library. Sometimes I stumble across a true treasure (like the first edition of Tales of Sherlock Holmes), and sometimes I come across things people have left in books (cards, letters, bills, photographs). The latter fell in my lap today, a card and several cat pics. The card was from a mother to her son, written March 9, 1999, while he was in rehab to deal with alcoholism. It seemed invasive to read the card, so I set it down, but then I picked it back up and finished reading it. In a hand that was not easy to decipher she wrote lovingly of how she much she cared for him, but how he has to get this help so that he can manage the disease and move forward with his life, and how she and Newton (the cat) are always there for him.
Of course then I wondered what's happened to this man, his mother, and the cat in the last 10 years. Did he get sober? Did it stick? Is the cat still alive? Are any of them still alive? Will I write a letter to Reichter while he's off at basic training and he'll use it as a bookmarker and then someday someone else will come across what I said to him? Imagine how the tendrils of our lives get flung so far afield, falling into random hands.
Maybe we should all leave a note in a book.