An incredible segment in this past week’s This American Life podcast, “The Parent Trap”, which comes to us via Mbird reader David Gaston.

It is the story of a young woman, Rebecca Gee, whose mother, before dying of cancer, wrote letters to her daughter to be opened on each birthday (beginning with her 17th). In Rebecca’s early years of grief the letters were a welcomed and much needed connection to her mother. They brought consolation during moments of isolation in college, courage while applying for medical school, etc. But, over time, they became debilitating. A statement is made during the story that the memory of her mother became idyllic, perfect (read: God). As many of the letters contained well-intentioned admonitions regarding career, children, and life as a Mormon woman (the plot thickens!), opening the letters gradually moved from catharsis to condemnation. In other words, they shifted from being heard as Gospel to being heard as Law – big time! – which culminates in the “wedding day” letter. Utterly fascinating and more than a little tragic. Take a listen: