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In an age of DMs and quick calls on Facetime, there is nothing more heartwarming and genuine than a letter. The thought of someone picking out the nicest paper in the stationary store and scribing away their feelings is just lovely. Many of us had pen pals growing up – I still wonder what happened to mine. But Krystel and Haley, a couple of pen pals who started talking in school, managed to stay in touch for an astounding 43 years and recently they’ve met for the very first time.

Many people have had pen pals when they were children and lost touch over the years

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Krystel and Haley’s remarkable story began back in 1980, when two 10-year-olds sent first letters to each other. They lived on the opposite ends of the country – Krystel resided in sunny California and Haley was in Pennsylvania. The two elementary school students talked about everything: from their favorite subjects to the weather differences. The two little girls had no idea that this connection would continue to grow for the next forty years.

“We were just kids, and I’m sure they were probably hoping that we would stay connected or continue on with it,” Krystel said in an interview. That’s the beauty of childhood innocence – they believe that friendships last forever. Luckily, this friendship grew and matured with the girls, who continued to talk and find comfort in each other’s letters.

Krystel and Haley managed to beat the odds and stay in touch for an astounding 43 years!

Image credits: ABC7

The two women first connected back in 1980 when they were in elementary school

Image credits: ABC7

“We wrote by-hand letters for a long time. I think we thought about each other, you know, whether we were in contact or not,” Haley recalled fondly. When something good or bad happened, she wanted to let it out on the paper and send it to Krystel, who would thoroughly read and reply, giving her friend much-needed advice or providing comfort, despite being hundreds of miles away.

They also put a lot of effort into getting to know each other, inquiring about interests and hobbies, connecting over similarities, and debating over differences. “Our differences, we would write about, and that’s what I would learn about, and she would learn about me. It was a new experience with a new person.”

Image credits: ABC7

“There was definitely breaks in there, but we always stayed in touch in some way,” Haley recalled their friendship journey

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Image credits: ABC7

As the technology advanced and social media platforms became prominent, their correspondence changed. Now they were liking each other’s pictures and sending laughing emojis under funny videos of dogs. They could snap a picture of whatever they were doing at the given moment, instead of having to wait for weeks to find out.

Just like in any normal adult friendship, Krystal and Haley took breaks from communicating. That’s normal, sometimes life just gets in the way too much and we want to curl up on the sofa with snacks and cheesy TV shows. True friends understand that and don’t get angry.

“There was definitely breaks in there, but we always stayed in touch in some way,” Haley says, proving that true friendship is resilient and adapts to the changing times and schedules.

They initially planned to meet in 2020 and celebrate their 50th birthdays together but couldn’t due to lockdown and travel restrictions

Image credits: ABC7

Image credits: ABC7

In October 2023, they were finally able to see and hug each other

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Image credits: ABC7

Image credits: ABC7

The two friends were eagerly awaiting their face-to-face meeting and even made grand plans to have their 50th birthday bash together. That was back in 2020 and we all know what happened then – lockdowns and travel restrictions made it impossible for friends to see each other.

In October 2023, the stars finally aligned for Krystel and Haley to meet. Krystel traveled to Pennsylvania where her excited pen pal couldn’t wait to give her the biggest hug. As soon as Haley saw Krystel, she rushed to her, embracing the woman she had seen for the first time. But there was no awkwardness, no strangeness – after 43 years, you know everything about the other.

“The only difference is now we’ve been in the same place at the same time,” Haley shared.

Later that day, the new besties enjoyed each other’s company over dinner at an Italian restaurant. The conversation flowed easily, as they reminisced of those two 10-year-olds who would send letters with butterflies to each other.

“The only difference is now we’ve been in the same place at the same time,” they shared feelings over meeting each other

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Image credits: ABC7

True friendship can withstand trials of time and flourish for many beautiful years

Image credits: ABC7

Krystel and Haley are a wonderful example that friendship can withstand the trials of time and distance. When they embraced each other, they weren’t hugging a stranger – they held close a person who was there for them through thick and thin for 43 years. They will cherish it – and the letters – forever.

Have you ever had a pen pal? Are you still in touch with them?

Commenters were sharing their heartwarming pen pal stories

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