This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a writing workshop for teachers. I really enjoyed the experience and I learned a lot about myself as a writer. The class afforded me the opportunity to explore some concepts that I had never thought to write about.
That is where “Letters I Cannot Send” originated.
As a part of the class, I wrote a letter to my Dad and always knew that there was one other letter that I wanted to write. But, at the time, I wasn’t ready to even think about it.
Sometimes it takes a while to process just how much someone impacted you…
Sometimes it takes a while to be able to put it into words…
“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”
– James Earl Jones
I wasn’t expecting to encounter a student who would be the catalyst for me to begin writing this yesterday. Sometimes, teaching is as heart wrenching as it is difficult. I don’t know that I will ever know what to do to really help a student deal with a loss. The only thing I could do in that moment was share that I had felt loss too and was there if she needed me.
And then it happened…
Out of no where, I told her about writing the letter to my Dad and that I had never written the letter that I wanted to write to my friend.
A letter to tell her all of the things that I couldn’t say the last time we spoke…
She began writing hers and I began to write mine.
I told her that she didn’t have to share her letter with me if she didn’t want to. But, I hope that she knows that she can. I hope that she will feel the freedom to be real and to put into words how she really feels. I hope she can get the words out on paper that she “can’t utter.”
As I sit here writing this letter, I can’t believe that it has been almost a year since I’ve seen you smile and heard you say hello.
I remember you had a smile that not only lit up your entire face, but the whole room. I remember it so clearly.
I remember the way you laughed. It was infectious. You couldn’t help but laugh too – especially anytime everyone was together. We shared some side-splitting laughter, of that I’m certain. I wish I could remember what was so funny…
Oh…the parties! I can’t think of you without remembering the parties. I’d come in the door to find you doing what you loved most – cooking away in the kitchen. I loved sitting on the bar stools and talking to you while you cooked. It always smelled amazing – Cheeseburger Paradise Soup, your strawberry cakes and blueberry pies…I’m pretty sure no one will ever be able to get them “just like yours.”
(I have tried a few times. Steven has let me know that I’m not quite there yet. I’m also quite sure that I never will be because nobody cooks like your Mama…nobody!)
I learned so much in those moments. I didn’t just learn new things or recipes to try – you also showed me what hospitality was all about. Your kitchen was always about hospitality. It was a gathering place and truly the heart of your home. It almost seemed like you had a “the more people the better” attitude. Each one was always welcomed with a smile, AND we certainly NEVER left hungry.
I know I miss those times in your kitchen, and I’m sure a lot of other people do too…
I always appreciated how much you loved learning. We shared an interest in history and it was so cool to have someone to talk about it with. I will always remember the trip we took to Gettysburg to see the battlefields and museums. We found things and did things that I had never done there before. It was an adventure – that’s for sure:)
I saw in you an example of unparalleled strength. You made sure that we all knew the source of your strength was not physical, but came from a supernatural source – a loving father – God. You had a well-worn Bible that bore the proof of time spent seeking Him for comfort and answers in the difficult times as well as gratitude for those answers when they came.
I believe you showed us all how to care for others for as long as you have here on Earth. I don’t think I will ever forget our last exchange and how important it was to you for me to know what needed to be taken care of. I promised I would…and I did.
Though I had the chance that day to say thank you for this and so many other things, I lacked the words for such an arduous task. Just how do you thank someone for journeying with you and teaching you so much?
Your absence has left a hole in many hearts – mine included. But, I see so much of you in your children. Their smiles, laughter, caring hearts, and love of being with others…You’ve left a legacy in each and every one of them. They will forever remind us of you.
Thank you Maria,