Letters I Cannot Send – Part Two

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.”

Dear Maria,

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.

That smile…

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,

for everything…