Letters from home 1

Dear Kim,

I can’t find the words to tell you how much I miss you. The sound of your voice, the touch of your hand – the simple knowledge of your presence as we pursued our various tasks throughout the day.

I remember your “squirrel maneuver” – the way you’d clear the water from your eyes when swimming or showering. I remember the softness of your kiss, and the sparkle in your eye when you were being playful. The beauty of your face with your head on the pillow. The way you could find things to laugh at when things weren’t as pleasant as they should be. Through 31 years of marriage, those things changed so little.

I’ve been taking care of your plants in your craft room for you. I think I’ve gotten the hang of it – the peace lilies appear to be thriving, and it looks like that little rose plant I gave you that you had such a hard time keeping alive may be coming back. I put your heater on them for a few hours each morning, since that room is so cold all the time, and water them every other day. I took all the dead stuff off of the plants as well. You should see them – I think you’d be proud of me.

When I walk into your craft room, my gaze still settles on the chair where, in life, I’d invariably find you. I dwell on that view, imagining you swiveling around to greet me with a smile. Pieces of the last quilt you were working on – the one I had to help you with so much as the neuropathy took the feeling from your fingers – are still there, though they’ve been moved from where you left them. The girls have been using your craft room for various projects – Jessica, to dry the flowers from your funeral and encase them in resin; Jeanette, to work on embellishments for the clothes worn by members of her pageant team; and Jillian, to paint pictures for her art class at school.

A little while ago, Vanessa commented that I should have a blanket in the car for her drive to school in the morning. I’ve taken the RealTree-patterned fleece and the hunter orange fleece – the ones you were making pillows for the hunters in the family with – and I’ll brave your sewing machines to make them into a reversible blanket. I figured I would sew them together on three sides, and most of the way on the fourth, then pull it inside out and finish the fourth side by hand. I know you’d approve of my “plan” and I think you’ll be proud of the blanket when it’s done.

My thoughts often go back to when we were dating. I knew you were the one when I couldn’t get you off of my mind – a condition that descended on me just a few months after we started dating. Through our marriage, though, in the words of Willie Nelson, you were always on my mind: that ever-presence changed to more of a knowledge that you were there, accessible, a part of who I am. Now, I’m back to the dating scenario, where I can’t get you off of my mind but, unlike those days, I can’t call you, except in my prayers; I can’t come over to where you are until my days are through.

I don’t have any desire to leave here early – God’s gift of life is not one to be squandered – but I know that, when that time does come, we’ll be reunited, so it leaves me hopeful. As hopeful as that young man that couldn’t get you off of his mind; who had his heart set on marrying you.

I love you, Kitten. And I know somewhere, you’re saying “Ditto.”

Je’ t’aime.

Kafka, pt. 2

Yesterday, I related a story attributed to Franz Kafka. There is another point to the story besides that last, powerful statement. That point is that the journey changed the doll – an allusion to the changes life experiences have on all of us – as has the loss of Kim changed me.

Some of the changes we experience during the journey of our lives are physical and obvious. Others are not obvious to those who do not know us well, and these are the deeper changes; the changes of character that life brings about.

It has been said that those who lose a spouse come out of the experience bettered – more compassionate, patient. More understanding and tolerant. The loss and the grief over it batter the rough edges of our character much as the constant waves will smooth the stones on the beach.

Here’s hoping that part of Kim’s legacy is a better man.


I came across a story about Franz Kafka, a Czech writer who was born in the late 19th century and died in the early 20th century. The story related something that occurred in the last year of his life. He encountered a little girl who had lost her doll. He and the little girl searched for the doll in vain, and she was quite upset over her loss. Kafka invented a story about how the doll had gotten bored and went off in search of the world. Thereafter, on each day, he would meet the little girl and regale her with tales from her doll’s travelogue. Eventually, he bought a new doll for the little girl. Upon giving it to her, telling her that her doll had finally returned home from its journey, she remarked how the new doll didn’t look the same, to which he told her that the doll’s adventures had changed her.

Cute story. But wait: there’s a bit more.

Years later, long after Kafka had died, the now-grown woman found a note Kafka had written and placed inside the doll. It said:

“Everything that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”