Every day at noon my husband, John, and I communicated via text messages. The conversations always began with “how u be?” While the discussions lasted only a few minutes, they were our unique way of sharing our day with each other. The conversations varied from short words of affection to venting frustrations. John’s texts grounded me, made me laugh or sometimes the text messages helped us resolve a conflict or misunderstanding. While John was a man of few words, his well-chosen text messages conveyed affection, support, and love each day at noon.
On August 23, 2013, that changed forever when John passed away in his sleep. Ten days earlier, John, suffered a major heart attack which severely damaged his heart. There were no more text messages, emails or other electronic communication that had become such an intricate part of our life together. Since his death, I periodically write letters to him, not because I expect an answer or that I think he reads them. I write the letters because through the short notes I feel connected to him. The letters have also been a way for me to document my grief journey.
John helped me resolve the distorted view of love my parents created through abuse. I felt loved for who I am, not what I could offer him. I decided that posting my latest letter to heaven I might help someone realize there is hope even amid tragedy.
A Letter to Heaven
I haven’t written to you for a very long time. I sometimes feel silly that I even think about writing a letter to you. I know that you do not see me or hear me, but somehow writing a letter now and then brings me peace. Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the heart attack that eventually took you from me. Five years seems like forever, but today it seems like yesterday. My mind races back to the day with so many questions that I cannot count them all. “Why didn’t you call 911 when you knew something was wrong? Why didn’t you tell me the minute I walked in from work that you thought you were having a heart attack?” These and so many more questions haunt me on this anniversary. There are no answers, but the questions remain.
You Would be Proud
I do want to let you know that I am happy, well content anyway. I don’t miss you every day anymore. I miss you when I watch the Texas Rangers play. I don’t cry at the thought of you not being here to watch the game with me. The things that once caused tears to flow now bring a smile to my face. I now enjoy the memories of our life together, but I get sad sometimes when I think of the things you are missing.
Angel graduated from high school in May and just moved into the college dorm. She is all grown up, my love, and you would be so proud of the young woman our granddaughter has become. Korine is teaching High School English and just received a Master’s in Apologetics. Isaac has a girlfriend!
I have learned something this week, my love. Rationally, I know that you are happy, content and enjoying the company of God. I know that to wish you were still in my life is a selfish thought because you are where you are supposed to be. However, I finally understand in my heart that to want to bring you back is unfair to you. C. S. Lewis reflects in A Grief Observed, “I want her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again?” Those words seemed harsh when I read them two years ago. Now, they ring true. I would not wish such sorrow on you. I can’t restore the past.
I miss you, my love, but I realize that our life together would have been so different because of the changes in your health. You were not a good patient, my love. You often got impatient when your body did not allow you to do what you loved. After the heart attack, your activity level changed. Of course, I don’t know how much progress you might have made over time because you died before the first follow up with your doctor.
My love, for the first time since you died, I am not overwhelmed with tears as the anniversary of your death approaches. I am reflective, but not sad. I’ve always understood that grief is not an event, but a journey. Lewis describes it best, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” I think I have rounded a new bend that reveals newness, peace, and contentment that I have not experienced for a very long time.
I look forward to the day when we meet again, but I no longer yearn for the memories of our life together. Remembering you now brings a soft smile to my lips.
All My Love,
 C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (London: CrossReach Publications, 2016), 25.