“Dear Shira” Letter Found Among Recycled College of Charleston Text Books

By Mark A. Leon

By Mark A. Leon

“Dearest Shira” is handwritten on a 3” x 5” lined set of pages stapled together inside A History of Colonial Brazil:  1500-1792 deep inside a recycle box on Calhoun Street in front of the FedEx office.

It is that time of year, when the College of Charleston students say goodbye to the text books and look forward to the next phase in their life.  From psychology to history, the recycle box overflowed with academic memories and even one copy of 50 Shades of Grey.

Yet, lingering between the pages of this green and black book of Brazilian history was the frail edge of these papers.  Deep in the heart of the night, we read the deep personal thoughts of a letter to Shira from Mischa.

Why was it left behind?

What is the relationship of these two?

We don’t know the answer, but there are strong and personal messages to take away from this eight page hand written letter.

As we read, we felt as if we were invading the soul of Mischa, but comforted that we could spare her words.  In a day of texting, smartphones and laptops, the idea that the written word still exists is a warm feeling.

Mischa speaks of her dad’s place, “Ah, what a strikingly attractive place this is.  I forget how thrilling and peaceful it makes me feel inside to be here (at The Highland Reservoir) and at my dad’s place.”  The morning sun charges up over the Eastern ridge of the small but breathtaking valley like a track racer eager to heat things up.  Hot cup of dark coffee on the back deck, air still refreshingly brisk but warming up fast to the point where I can feel the temperature change.” 

The use of analogy and vivid detail paints a wonderful picture of a beautiful place neither one of us had ever experienced, but felt we could through these words.  The importance of her father’s place and the ability to create a refuge from life was detailed so clearly in these words.

Reflection is a critical part of Mischa’s life in this next except:

“Now I’m sitting on the edge of the reservoir in a little secluded spot contemplating the first round this morning (Sunday) and those five stupid missed putts for birdies that I should have had, in an ideal sense.”

In the hustle of city life, you learn to embrace what you cannot have near you as stated so eloquently, “He stuck out the first ten holes with us and then had to get back to the farm chores.  Always something to get done.  I really miss having some acreage to put energy into.  It’s rewarding and fun and whenever I get up here with some time, I help out as much as I can.”

Soon, the big secret is revealed; the longing for a cigarette.  In her words, “Mmm, that was a good cigarette or ‘coffin nail’ as my dad calls them.  I feel guilty about hiding the fact that I smoke from him, but I don’t want to degrade his perception of me, because I know how right he is.”

The subtle love between father and daughter is so poignant in the revelation of her secret.  Her need to be a part of his world and escape her own tells a telling tale.

In the final words to Shira, we are taken to a beautiful place, one many of us dream of:

“My friends are plunging into the water, but I am going to climb this exquisite willow tree here on the bank and gather some vibes.  Loving you. Mischa”

Thank you Mischa for letting us into your world for a brief time and showing us the passion of family, simplicity and country life.


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