When Love Forgets About Grammar

Luis Sanchez as photographed by Sandra Sanchez

Whenever my brother writes something for me, he always apologizes for spelling stuff wrong. I’ll find the apology on the back of an owl drawing, towards the end of a four-page letter, or under a small drawing of Squirtle. When he started this, I would laugh and reply in my own letter that it was okay. We’ll practice when I’m back homeI’ll even throw in a line about using the computer to look up words he isn’t familiar with.

As fall semester is coming to an end, and I’m writing more papers than I can keep up with, I am thankful for his spelling errors. My heart does a little thump when I read filing instead of feeling. I don’t care for spelling errors. At least, not in the way I used to, because who he is at this moment is frozen in these letters. Time moves on, the world doesn’t stop moving, yada yada yada. You’ve heard this all before. I don’t need to remind you of the inevitably of time. Although, I do want to remind you of the particularities and moments you can cultivate despite its constant passing.  

There are a myriad of reasons why the world is currently terrible. I wake up every morning struggling against this weight of hopelessness that likes to sit directly on my chest. It’s uncomfortable. I manage to push it off for a few hours, go to class, and come back to sleep. I have a routine. Then there are nights like this one, when I feel overwhelmed by assignments and I look at my brother’s letters. 

I pay close attention to how he slants some letters and not others. How he likes to write in colored pens that are not black or blue. How he signs his name. How he writes mine. I pay attention and I commit it to memory and I try not to cry because how dare I feel so hopeless when I’ve got a brother who writes me letters reminding me to work hard. 

He tells me he misses me. 

I miss you too, Luis. 

He quotes phrases he’s heard our family say. 

Yes, we are strong. Yes, our love is what gives us strength. 

He’ll remind me three times in the span of one page of his love for me. 

I love you too. 

How can I care about the spelling when I understand everything he is trying to tell me so well? Filing is now feeling, and I frankly don’t care for the right spelling. Spelling means nothing when you’re just trying to tell your loved ones you love them. There are so many people who can’t.

I have my brother’s letters taped onto the wall above my bed. I look at them when I’m trying to find the motivation to get out of bed. I look at them when I miss him, but I can’t tell him I miss him because I know he’ll cry. When I see him, I hold him for a few minutes. I love you, Luisito. 

Spelling ceases to matter when I’ve got my arms wrapped around his small shoulders.