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.

8 comments:

Tommy's mom said...

Oh Cas how precious. I had a few lines written in my Bible from my husband before he died. Twenty years later I still read those words. I understand how hard and wonderful it was to read the letter. I am so glad you found it. He will finish the letter in person in Heaven. You are in our prayers every day. Tommy will be back from Europe on the 10th. I know he will want to come and help with you in anyway he can with the new house.

Lisa Ponraj said...

Cas, my heart breaks for your pain. I keep asking sweet Jesus to be your constant comfort. Love you, Lisa

Keli said...

I cry and pray as I read. Your journey and faith and love touch my heart. Thank you for your transparency.

Steve said...

Dear Cas,

I’m sorry to hear that all your things were moved. I’m disappointed that your home wasn’t shown more respect, even though you might not be living there much longer.

This morning right after reading this, I heard this song on our radio station. I was a blessing to me, so hopefully you can find some comfort in it also.

I may walk through the valley of tears,
I may see more heartaches then years.
Though dark grows the way, still I’ll trust every day,
For He walks through the valley with me.

Just as long as I know he is there,
Bending low for my prayer.
I can face each tomorrow of pain,
Knowing this, God still reigns.
http://www.testimonypress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/12-Valley-of-Tears.mp3

That song reminded me of something I read several years ago about the Father bending low to hear our prayers.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And he inclined to me, (turned his ear and bent low to hear)
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40:1-3

A.T. Jones commenting on this verse said:

But there are times in our discouragement when the waters go over our souls, when we can hardly muster up the courage of faith to speak our prayers aloud. O, at such times as that, if they are too faint in our faith to reach him as He listens, then He leans over and listens; He inclines His ear and hears. That is the Lord. That is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lover and Saviour of sinners. Then if He should lead you and me through the deep waters and they go over our souls as they did over His, O, we can wait patiently for the Lord. He will incline unto us. He will lean over and hear our cry! p. 15, Para. 21,
[GC1895]

Please remember that Jesus is bending low to hear your prayers and tenderly comfort you. I know it’s hard to believe right now, but He loves you with an everlasting love and will someday give you a new song and restore your husband to you in perfect health.

You are continually in our prayers.

Steve and Samra

cherilyclough.com said...

Cas, I only met you guys once at Valley View in Medford. I thought you were such a sweet little family that I followed your FB page and blog. My heart has been breaking for all you have gone through and for the kids and for all of you! I am praying for you. I hope no matter where you go in this world you can still feel the love God has surrounded you with from many people and I pray that love you had with Todd continues to fortify and strengthen you through the hope we have in Jesus. Blessings!

Norbert Cristea said...

Dear Cas,
I am sorry that I stood far off with all this things that happened to you, but I am sure that you do not mind to give you a hug from Bolivia, on your birthday.

you are special, am sorry for all you went through.
Love you.
Babi

Travis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Travis said...

Your reminder to write and do all the things with my loved ones is well received. Thank you for writing this all down and sharing.

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