I've been working on a project this summer and decided that even though it isn't really a slice of life, I would share the beginning here. I would really love some feedback!
Letters from Annie
February – Month 1
I kept Annie’s letter in my purse all day. Today was the day that I was supposed to read it. Her directions specifically said to open it on the one month anniversary of her death.
I wasn’t sure I would be able to wait that long to open it but now that the moment has arrived, I’m nervous. It feels like forever since I sat across the table from her for our last “Saturday-morning-mom-break” coffee date and it feels like yesterday that I said my last goodbye. I’m just as raw today as I was one month ago. Time heals all wounds, they say. They just didn’t say it would take so long.
I had lain in bed with Annie’s letter on the pillow next to me this morning. I had brought Annie’s letter to work with me. I looked at the envelope while I ate my lunch. I held it as I sat in my car in my driveway. I stood it up on the table while I ate dinner. I guess I’m procrastinating out of fear; fear of what it might contain, fear of the tears that are sure to come, fear of not having it to look forward to anymore…my last new connection to her.
Now it was nearly bedtime and still I hadn’t read it. I put on my pajamas, poured myself a glass of wine and curled up on the couch. It was time. It couldn’t be delayed any longer. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer and carefully opened the envelope. My hands shook as I pulled out the pretty purple paper. It was a beautiful, handwritten letter.
After another deep breath, I began to read:
Hello pretty lady! I miss your face! I know it’s been a long month for you, for Ben, for the kids. I’m sure you’ve checked in on him because that is the kind of friend you are. I’m sure it’s been hard on both of you but you need each other right now. Draw together in times of need.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
I ask you now to begin a journey with me, our last journey together. I have written you and Ben letters, one for each of you for each month for one year after I am gone. You will find a striped box on the shelf in my closet. The letters for each of you are there. Each month, on “my anniversary,” please read your next letter. I’m asking you to stick with it for one year. Each month I will ask something of you; something small but important. Please know that I love you and miss you and our friendship. You will always be my best friend, my kindred spirit.
Ok, enough mush for now. Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it (See? I still have a sense of humor!): Bring dinner to the house and spend the evening reminiscing about when we all met, the first times we spent together, etc. Lean on each other. Ben needs someone to open up to, to talk to and maybe even to cry with. He’s a man’s man-he thinks he shouldn’t cry. Let him cry with you. He needs someone.
In my letter to Ben this month, I told him that you would call him and ask to bring dinner over. He will accept because I’ve asked him to. I’m sure the conversation will unfold easily around the dinner table. After dinner, find the box of letter and discuss whether or not you will take this journey together with me. I’m asking for you to do this for one year, but (spoiler alert) I will give you the option of opting out after a few months. I hope you don’t do that but maybe knowing that will make it easier to accept my mission???
Remember our favorite book: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important”. I love you.
With all my heart,
The tears were streaming down my face as I folded the letter carefully and placed it back in the envelope. I put my head back, closed my eyes and drifted into a deep sleep, completely spent. Of course I would do anything she asked of me. I told her that two years ago. “Any thing, any time,” I had said and I had meant it.
I slept with her letter under my pillow. My sweet Annie, the love of my life. This day had been quietly taunting me. So many times I had held the letter to my heart wanting nothing more than to rip it open and see her words, her handwriting, to feel her again. Somehow, I managed to wait. I would do anything for her, even now that she’s gone.
Today is the day. It was the first thought I had, even before my eyes opened. The question was when and where should I open it? I’m still glad I took the day off from work. I wanted to spend some time with the letter. I wanted to spend some time with Annie. And, suddenly I knew.
I dropped Zoey off at school and drove home. I gathered the letter, my coffee mug and began walking. The cemetery was just across the street. It felt so right to know she was still near and it also felt so unfair to know she was so near and not with us.
I walked easily to the shining stone and sat down on the new, tender, green grass. Beloved wife and mother indeed, I thought as I looked at the stone. I pulled the letter from my pocket and took a deep breath. Carefully, I opened the envelope and pulled out the blue paper.
My love, my life, my soul. I miss your smile, your beautiful eyes, your laugh and your arms, my favorite place to be. I know this has been a hard month. I know you’ve had to be everything to everyone and you have little left for yourself. I’m so sorry. Remember that my love is all around you – in the kids, in the house, in this letter, in your heart.
I ask you now to begin a journey with me, our last journey together. I have written you and Jenna letters, one for each of you for each month for a year after I am gone. You will find a striped box on the shelf in my closet. The letters for each of you are there. Each month, on “my anniversary,” please read your next letter. I’m asking you to stick with it for one year. Each month I will ask something of you; something small but important. Please know that I love you more than anything. You will always be the other half of my heart, my soul mate. Hugs and kisses, my love.
I’ve asked Jenna to check on you. She will call you and offer to bring you dinner. You can decide to have the kids join you or not. Spend time reminiscing about when we all met, how this friendship developed, etc. Lean on each other. You can count on her, she’s safe, and she’s a good friend. Let your guard down. You can cry on her shoulder. No, really. Talk to each other and maybe even cry with each other. Remember that it’s been hard on her too. You need each other right now. Draw together in times of need.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
In my letter to Jenna this month, I told her that you would be expecting her to call. She will bring you dinner because I’ve asked her to. Enjoy it together. The rest will unfold around the dinner table. After dinner, find the box of letters and discuss whether or not you will take this journey together with me. I’m asking for you do this for one year, but I give you the option of opting out after a few months. I hope you stick with it, but I understand if you don’t. Maybe knowing that will help you accept it now?
I love you to the moon and back.
With all my love,
The wind blew soft on my cheeks as I sat there holding Annie’s letter. I had noticed the striped box. I stand in her closet every day…it still smells like her inside. Of course I will honor Annie’s wishes and open each letter each month. I will do whatever she asks of me. I would get her the moon if that was what she wanted.
I’m not sure how long I sat there staring at the letter. Finally, I decided to go home and wait for Jenna’s call.