June 22, 2016


 Dear Todd,

Our lives keep going on and on.

Everything is changing. Nothing is the same.

Each change is a stark reminder to me that you are gone.

We have a dog now. And 2 kittens. I call them our therapy animals. I have a new car. The kids needed new swimsuits. I got new shoes. We got camping equipment. I even have my own paddle board now. All of the new things are reminders of what I can't share with you anymore. Camping trips you will miss. Road trips you will miss. Memories you will miss.

It's been two months now since you left us. I can still see your smile so fresh in my memory, but sometimes I struggle to remember the sound of your voice. We watch videos of you and look at photos often so we don't forget.

Today I sat down with a grief counselor for the first time. We met at the park and chatted while the kids played and rode bikes. He says I'm dealing with my grief well. I don't feel like it. I feel like I'm falling apart.

I wish you could meet Samson. He's our puppy. He's a black Great Dane and his eyes look so much like Alex's eyes. I look into them and I remember so many adventures we had when we got Alex. He was such a good dog, and Samson is following in his footsteps. I'd forgot how much I enjoy training a dog. He really is therapy for me. He's Samuel's dog - Samuel got to pick him out for his birthday - but Samson is a mama's boy through and through.

The kittens are so much fun. They are so tolerant of the children constantly carrying them around. Amelia named hers Mary and Samuel named his Moses. They are going to be really good kitties.

We got back to the house just over 3 weeks ago. I thought that once we got back here everything would fall into place and I could think more clearly. Instead, the house feels so empty, just like my heart.

I printed and framed a large family photo to take to your funeral. It's up on the piano now. It's one of the ones we had taken in November with your plane. I stare at it, that was just a few months ago. Already the cancer was spreading throughout your body and we had no idea. No idea that we were spending our last happy months together. No idea of the fight that was to come. No idea of the heartache that was to come.

We were happy.

You were so proud of that plane. I am still proud of you. You know, that plane is going to Guyana soon. James is going to fly it. I know that's what you would have wanted.

I haven't mustered the courage to go look at it yet. The kids have asked to. Maybe someday.

We had a little party for Samuel last week on his birthday. It was small and simple and I didn't spend hours making anything. In fact, all I made was a cake. I was fine until I brought out the cake and we sang to Sam. Then, I lost it.

A boy needs his father.


Next week I will spend our anniversary without you. Thirteen years. I'm so glad for the time we had together, but it wasn't long enough.

After that is my birthday, the children are concerned that I'll never get a birthday present again. Haha. There's only one present I want now, and I can't have you...

I wish I could end my letter by saying, "See you tomorrow!" I can't wait for the day when we are reunited. I'll have so many things to tell you, and so will the kids. They keep growing, you know. I see you every time I look at them. Thank you for that gift.

I love you.

I'll always love you.

Someday when we are together again you'll laugh at me for writing letters to you. I hope that I'll be able to remember to tell you all the things I wish I could tell you now. I close my eyes and imagine talking to you and despite the pain of missing you, it actually makes me feel a little better knowing that someday will come.

Love forever,

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June 5, 2016

his last letter

We got back to Tennessee a week ago.

I walked into our house, where I knew someone had been staying the last few months.

I took a deep breath and let my eyes sweep around.

The kid's artwork, the Christmas cards I had left on the door frame, our books and personal things were all gone from the walls. The worship books and candles were not on the piano. Furniture was moved.

I felt like a stranger.

I just walked into a house. Not our house. Just... a house.

I went into the kitchen and dining rooms.

Empty walls stared back at me. Our homeschool shelves still were full of books. But there was no "Anderson Family Kindness Plan" on the wall.

Even though I knew someone had been staying there, I didn't expect to feel like our home had been violated. It probably wouldn't have mattered at all if my husband had been by my side... but he wasn't. 

It's kind of silly, I now realize, but for some reason I had it in my head that if we could just get back to this house, to where our life was, to where he was, that I would be able to think clearly and make decisions and figure out what I want.

But as I stood in a empty house there was no clarity. In fact, I felt more confused than ever.

It's been a week and I've been halfheartedly unpacking at best. The kids' clothes finally made it into their dresser today.

I don't want to be here.

I suspect that I don't want to be anywhere.

Friday morning we spent the morning out at 12-acre farm that's been offered to our family for 2 years. From the emails back and forth prior to seeing the property, I wasn't sure it was something I could handle. But, with a little help from our amazing community here, it's going to be a sweet little house for us.

I don't know if I'll get there and not want to be there, but for now, it's something I need to try.

I'm going to surround myself with animals and write and be outside as much as I can.

I think I'll love the space and hate that I can't share it with my husband.

I'm still living out of boxes, and I'll continue to do so until we get out to the farm - it will take a few weeks to work on some repairs and such. I'm also having to move our belongings that were moved out of our living space, everything was put in the kids' room.

As I'm going tenderly though the stack of things that once sat beside my husband's bedside. On impulse I put them back where they belong. Then, I sat down on the bed and looked through his things. Books, notes about airplane things, doodles from the kids. On the bottom was a composition notebook.

The man loved his composition notebooks.

I opened it up expecting to find a maintenance log or tax-record log (heaven help my non-record keeping self). It was mostly empty as I flipped though except for the first 3 or 4 pages. I turned the book right side up and let my eyes scan the first page.

My heart stopped.

It was a letter.

To me.

That he started after we found out he had cancer.

I read the first few lines and closed the book. And my eyes.

I can't.

I paced the room a bit, grabbed the box of tissues, and sat down on the bed again, determined to read the last letter he wrote me.

We were letter writers. I'm a better communicator when I write, so we've written hundreds of letters back and forth over the years. As I'm reading this letter, it's not just a letter. This was us. It was only 3 pages long, and then it would be over.

I slowly opened the book and found where I had left off.

Two more lines and I'm sobbing again.

The pain. Oh the pain. My heart. Oh how it hurts.

He never finished his letter. We ended up flying him out to Seattle so fast that he didn't have time to finish it.

He loved me so much more than I ever deserved.

Now his love is gone and all I have are his words and the memories of his love.

Friends, leave memories of your love with the people you love.

Write letters. Take photos. Do the all the things. Go places. Be present.

Don't forget to treasure the memories in your heart.

You'll never regret love.
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June 2, 2016


I am restless.

I feel as if I’m searching for something, but I’m not sure what it is that I’m seeking.

I sit down. I get back up. I sit outside. I go back in. I sweep the floors and put the broom away. Then I get it back out and sweep more.

What am I supposed to be doing?

Everyone keeps telling me to take my time. For what? What is it that I am supposed doing with all this time?

I hate time. Time tricks you and it makes you think you have time, but then it’s gone.


This month will be my 13th wedding anniversary. It will also be 2 months since I lost my husband. Thirteen years wasn’t enough. I feel cheated out of the life I had. And now I have this life… A life of searching and wondering and staring out the window watching for him to ride his bike over the last hill before home…

You know, we didn’t have a Hollywood romance. There were moments, but for the most part, it was not a great story. No one will ever make a movie about our love story. It was too real. Too boring for Hollywood. We had hard times and we had great times. We had sad times and quiet times and frustrating times. We had fights and we had hurt feelings and we cried. We made up and we laughed and we never stopped loving. Our love never stopped.

We loved until death parted us…

And I love him still.

I have a new car. When I say “new” I mean NEW. I’ve never had a new car before. Some friends and churches worked together and raised enough money and bought me a new car. It’s my dream car. It’s so fancy and practical and techy and all I want to do is show my husband this amazing gift. I keep closing my eyes and imagining his reaction. His eyes open wide and his mouth drops open. I love his surprised face. It always makes the surprise totally worth it.

The first thing he would do after looking inside is open the hood and check out the engine and start a maintenance notebook and start keeping track of the gas milage.

But I can’t imagine for too long. My heart can’t handle too much imagining.

We also came home to 2 fluffy black kittens. A friend of a friend had a litter and as we were driving home, on a whim, I had someone go pick them up and take them to the house for me. Something to help with the transition. The kids are in love. Amelia named her girl Mary and Samuel named his boy Moses. They named them totally on their own.

Samuel is asking for a doggy for his birthday in 2 weeks. I want to get him a puppy, but finding the right one is tricky. When Todd and I got married we rescued Alex, the best dog ever. He was a Great Dane, and that’s what I want to get now. So if anyone has any leads on good puppies, let me know. ;)

The kittens, and the puppy and the car and everything, as great as they are, are all things that I can never share with my husband. It’s all part of moving on and I hate that. I hate moving on. It’s so sad and hard and painful. I’m afraid of forgetting. I’m afraid of the kids forgetting.


Change. Moving on. Time. I don’t have as much control in this life as I once thought I did…

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