When my husband, Andrew, and I were dating, he decided we should write letters – telling each other our thoughts and also recording that period in our lives. Even though we mostly communicated by phone, he thought this would be a tangible way to capture those memories from our hearts that may be lost from our minds after time. I must confess that he wrote longer and deeper messages than I. He also wrote more letters in general. The evidence is in our letter notebook holding one of my postcards and occasional notes to usually three of his long, handwritten letters.
When our first daughter, Abby was born, Andrew thought it would be good for us to each write a letter to her then as well. So we did. (By that time, I had gotten a little better.) The tradition continued when our next daughter, Audrey, was born. These are kept in their baby books. As the girls would go to camps or have special events, Andrew would slip a letter in their luggage or send one in the mail to reach the destination where they would be. ( I would sometimes remember to write too.) These letters were for the purpose of reminding them how much they were loved and to reassure them everything was going to be alright while they were away. Also to encourage them to enjoy the experience they were having.
Yesterday we took Abby to college. About a month ago, I had sketched out in my prayer journal all that I wanted to put in a letter to her. I never got around to writting it. Everytime I attempted, I would think, this time I am writing for myself, not her. Perhaps an attempt to remind her of the things I had hoped she already knew. Oddly enough, Andrew had considered and also decided not to write this time.
So off we rode taking the three hour trip to Lexington, KY. Abby”s little red Honda was packed to maxium capicity. There was only room for her in that vehicle. Andrew, Audrey and I were riding together in the Expedition. We were in front for a while then after calling to see if she could take the lead, Abby passed. I think she wanted to show us she could do it on her own.
We arrived after her roommate and her family had already unpacked most of her things. Unloading and unpacking went pretty quickly. The new college girls were settling in and soon to be off to their first meeting. We said our good-byes and then out to eat with the roommate’s family.
On the drive home, Andrew, Audrey and I laughed a lot. We knew Abby was O.K., and we were O.K. too. Most of the trip home Audrey was keeping us entertained with her “Audrey quotes.” (Something Abby had begun to record in the last year or so. ) This was a little unexpected for me because you see – I am a crier. I cry all the time…sad, happy, touched, mad…crying just happens to me like breathing. I know it, the girls know it, everybody who knows me knows it. And yet as the day went by I was surprised that I had not cried. I had only choked up once after hugging her in the dorm room. In fact I was pretty proud of myself and then we reached home, but it’s not what you think.
We arrived home and quickly began to transition back. In the kitchen at my desk, there is a drawer that is openned regularly. Keys are kept there as well as bills to be paid along with paper clips, reading glasses, etc. I pulled the drawer out to put up Abby”s extra set of car keys and then I saw them – three envelopes- each individually labled with our names: one for “Mom,” ” Daddy” and “Audrey.” Abby had left one for each of us. Audrey was rushing in to gather things together for Andrew to take her to a church youth event. In a broken voice, I mumbled, “Abby wrote letters to all of us.” I laid theirs out on the desk while I grabbed mine and raced to the bathroom. I hadn’t even read it yet and I was already crying.
While reading, I switched into the “ugly cry” as Abby had written down memories from childhood and also words of affirmation that reached into the depth of a mother’s hope and heart. After Andrew took Audrey, he returned and entered into my sobbing madness with his letter in hand. I noticed he had already teared up as well. He said that his was the kind of letter he hoped every father could receive from his daughter.
Later I found that Audrey had read her letter before she had left. She expressed that hers had meant so much to her also. Andrew and I both shared that we had both thought of writing to Abby, but had not. Then Andrew said that this was a coming of age/circle of life kind of thing. As she was going off to college, Abby had now done for us what we had tried to do for her so many years ago. She wrote the letters to remind us how much she loves us and to reassure us that everything is going to be all right. And she did just that and so much more.
So we have the individual letters addressed to each of us with with the particular language spoken from Abby’s heart to ours. It is tangible, recorded so that we can be reminded of this time and the love we share. But it’s not about the letter, is it? It’s about the relationship – and the message. I am most grateful for that.
It reminds me of other letters that have been written. Letters to remind us of the love the Author has for us and to reassure us that everything is going to be O.K. Abby’s simple, thoughtful act of kindness blessed me and reminded me of this simple truth. Thank you, Abby. And thank you, Lord.
2 Corin. 3:2-3 You yourselves are our letter written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.