Originally published in January 2013.
What would you say to your spouse if you could tell him or her anything? We all think it, whisper it, and lay awake at night muttering into the darkness lost words meant for them.
It’s been over two years now, and if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that there is real beauty in the written word. When those silent prayers to our loved ones aren’t enough, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) can be a soothing balm for the soul.
I often write to my husband. Sometimes these letters are long, poetic, as perfectly constructed as a term paper for school. Other times they are hastily written notes I jot down in anger or frustration or sheer wonder on the back of a napkin or sticky note. I have nowhere to send them, so I keep them. They are concrete and solid, and in a world turned upside down where so very little makes sense to me, they are reassuringly real. Somewhere in the back of my mind it feels like I am saving up these letters for him. Should he ever descend from the heavens to read them, he’ll be well caught up on everything he has missed.
What do I put in these letters?
Well, whatever I want.
I write them as though we are talking, as though he is in the room. It is like having our home-from-work conversations in the kitchen where I’d prattle on about my day and he’d listen, bemused, nodding at all the right spots and laughing when he thought it was safe to do so.
I encourage all grievers to get out pen and paper and write to their missing loved one. To tell them the things you want to say, pour your heart out, and share those jokes that only the two of you will understand. Burn them, save them, publish them to your blog – whatever feels right.
I’ll leave you with a sample of one of my own to get you started:
Hey dear, it’s just me again.
I don’t know how to reach you. Still. I hope you get my messages anyhow.
I still need to talk to you every day. It’s been so long and still, still I want to tell you about my day. Remember when you’d pick me up from work? We’d have to time it just right so you wouldn’t get a ticket for parking illegally and so I wouldn’t have to wait more than 10 seconds because I was always dressed inappropriately for the weather. I’m always too hot, or too cold. 13 years in this city and I still haven’t figured out the right clothing-to-weather ratio.
Or in the mornings, over coffee. You hated mornings. I didn’t. But you’d sit there, wrapped in blankets like an overstuffed cocoon, just sipping your coffee patiently while I yammered on. I miss our mornings. I drink tea now. I don’t like coffee anymore. It’s too much like us. And I surf the web while I drink. Sometimes I turn the tv on so it feels like someone is there. But sometimes I just like to feel alone.
I miss our talks.
Even though it was mostly me talking and you pretty much just listened. You always were a good listener. Did I ever tell you I loved that about you? I hope so.
I wish we could talk just one more time.
Just one more.
I have so much to ask.
This time, I think I’d be the one mostly listening.
Our thanks to guest author Emily Clark for sharing her story here with us. You can read more of Emily’s journey through young widowhood on her blog.