I’d always been one to take my marriage vows seriously, especially the ‘till death do us part’ line, so when the divorce was finalized on April 14, 2014 and I was heartbroken. Little did I know that 6 days later, on April 20, a TV show would debut on the Hallmark Channel that would change my life forever.
When I saw the preview for the Signed, Sealed, Delivered Pilot movie the previous year I was intrigued by the idea of a quirky group of postal detectives, so I set my DVR. By that time, however, my marriage was falling apart, so the last thing I wanted to do was watch TV. By the time the show rolled around I still hadn't watched the pilot but set the show to record anyway, then promptly forgot about all of it in my post-divorce haze. Several months post-divorce I decided to check out the pilot to see if I was going to hang on to the show or just delete it since my DVR was getting full.
Two words: Oliver O’Toole.
To quote Oliver in From Paris With Love, “But why?”
At first I thought it was simply because I had vaguely recognized Eric Mabius from Ugly Betty and a couple of previous Hallmark movies, but then I realized that in a sense I WAS Oliver - this straight-laced, buttoned-up bibliophile who seemed to have everything together on the surface, but was struggling to hold on to a marriage to someone who was obviously not as committed as they were, and got defensive when others tried to help.
My family and friends were all supportive, of course, but I never felt like they “got it” since none of them had ever gone through what I was dealing with -- although to be fair most of them never knew the entire story. So I guess that it was nice to see someone going through a similar struggle -- to see that I wasn’t alone -- and to have it presented in a real, emotional way. In A Hope and a Future, Oliver was brave enough to mail the letter that he had written to Holly in The Treasure Box, to ask for answers, just like after 6 years of misery, I was finally brave enough to break free.
That speech made me think for the first time that maybe I wasn't a horrible person for failing to keep my marriage together, even though the breakdown of my marriage was probably like 90% not my fault.
Ultimately, I believe that seeing Oliver cope with Holly's return, forgiving her for abandoning him, and their ultimate decision to divorce that led Oliver to install a porch swing at Shane’s house at 2 AM in From Paris With Love, is what finally broke me free from the bitterness that I carried with me after my own divorce. And it led me to believe that maybe I could find love again.
And so, I began to heal.
Higher Ground was another installment that holds a special place in my heart -- being from Louisiana and having gone through Katrina (although nothing like what the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in New Orleans went through - I live far enough inland to where we got a lot of wind & rain and were without power for a week, but had no major structural damage) and having actually just moved back in my home 2 months prior following the flood of 2016 (when my area received over 2 feet of rain in 2 days causing widespread flooding, including 2 ½ feet of water in my house, which had never flooded in almost 40 years), I really connected with Gabe and Hattie. I find it almost "providential” that THAT would be the first SSD film that would premiere after getting back in my house! #TrustTheTiming, right!?
Also with the Signed, Sealed, Delivered franchise came this group of people on the internet - people from near & far who also appreciated this series, who also connected with it in their own ways. People who were just as enthusiastic about if and when Shane and Oliver would get together, who cheered when Norman kissed Rita in the DLO, fellow fanfic writers who came up with their own letter mysteries and scenarios, and people who were pro- or anti- blue plaid suit (I have to admit, I was firmly anti- blue plaid suit for a LONG time, but I think it’s kind of grown on me) who would have hilarious but respectful debates. People who understood me and shared my love of all things SSD.
So with this Living Letter I’d like to say thank you. Thank you to Martha Williamson, for creating and writing such a beautiful and uplifting series just when I needed it most. Thank you to the crew for all of your hard work on each installment. Thank you to the cast -- Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe, Geoff Gustafson, and especially Eric Mabius -- for bringing these characters to life. Thank you to Crown Media/Hallmark for bringing this series to viewers like myself for the past 4 years (and hopefully for much longer!). And thank you to my fellow fans for being the best group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of fangirling with online.
Both the franchise and the fandom have truly been a #DivineDelivery, and although I’ve never met any of you in ‘real life’ yet, we’re not strangers - we’re the #POstables. And I love us.
The Living Letters series continues as long as there are stories (or even praise reports) to share, and I'm always looking for submissions. If you would like to contribute something about how Signed, Sealed, Delivered has impacted your life (or even your wardrobe) that you'd be willing to share here on A&D, feel free to email me. Keep the good going and submit yours today!