Over the years I have received so many cards from Keith – on important holidays. One year I think he forgot or didn’t have time, more than likely, to buy one. I never cared about a present, but something tangible to hold onto meant a lot. In my mind, at the time, a card meant he had to go out of his way to the store, look through the seemingly miles of words that someone else wrote to find the “perfect” words as if they were written by him. Of course this is how I always picked out a card so it was wonderful when I would receive them from him and hold on to every word just knowing that if he had the means, he would have crafted the words into his own beautiful hand-made card. How silly of me. Neither a card nor a present was as important as having him here with me, in person. And over the years, especially as we got older, we found ourselves buying a “joint” gift for the important dates of anniversary and Christmas. That could have been anything from a new TV, a car for one of us, or heck, even a new lawnmower! Everything we own is ours – even if he drove one car more than the other. But we always remembered in some way to purposefully write something tangible. Whether a letter or a store bought card or even, as I will share it below, an anniversary card written on a napkin.
Around December 1, 2013 Keith and I talked about Christmas and gifts. He asked me what I wanted for Christmas. It was rare, I mean really rare, for him to buy me something without asking what I wanted. Not because he couldn’t come up with something to buy, but he wanted to always make sure that it was something I really wanted. A few years ago I started giving Kim ideas so she could pass them on to him privately. I think he liked that!
During that conversation and not knowing that our Christmas would be spent in the hospital, I asked that we each write each other a letter. A letter from our hearts. I share these with you now. I’m so glad I asked for this gift, it means more to me than any piece of jewelry, clothing, electronic or vehicle. It’s mine and meant for me, as was his to him.
Keith’s letter was buried with him:
My dearest husband Keith,
This is our 20th Christmas spent together. How blessed I feel to say that and how happy I am to feel your love.
I asked you to write me a letter as my Christmas present because I always want something with me to hold in my hands should the time ever come when we can’t physically hold hands. If the time ever comes, that I leave you first, bury me with it – and if you should join the angels before me, this letter will go with you.
Christmas is a time as I’ve gotten older that I do reflect on the true meaning. It also gives me pause that because of His birth, I am able to trust that no matter what our future holds, God has put us together for a reason.
My gift from you has always been how you have treated me for the past almost twenty years. I have never felt more beautiful, more loved or more cared for in my life. You have made me so proud to be your wife and your best friend. You have made it so easy to love you with your kind and gentle ways and your beautiful smile. You have given me so much joy in my life that no matter what happens, I will always be thankful.
I don’t know what is going to happen a year from now, two years or five years down the road. What I do know is that I sure don’t want this fairy tale life to end. I know that no matter what though, I will always honor who you are and what you have represented to me and to our family and friends. You tell me and others that I am your rock. Honey, you are my mountain, the one who I lean on and go to for every little thing. I hope that if we are ever not together, that as I look to you for guidance, you will hear me and that I will somehow know whatever decisions I would have to make you would be in agreement with me. I have always wanted to make you proud and I hope that I have done that. I also hope that I will continue to make you proud as the years forge on.
I am not sure why I feel the need now to write this letter. Maybe so you can read it over and over and over again and always feel my love. So you can know that you never have to worry that you won’t be taken care of. I know it’s not easy being you right now – you are used to taking care of everyone else and just “doing” because that is who you are. There is nowhere in the world I would rather be than right here, right now, with you. As your wife, as your caregiver, as your best friend – this is what it is all about. This is what we go into a marriage saying – we will be with each other until the end, in sickness and in health.
I love you so much. I know you know this. I know you feel it. I wish there were new words sometimes, because my love goes so deep, that the word itself sometimes just seems inadequate. You are my world. You are my light. You are everything to me.
I wish you on this Christmas, continued pain-free days, strength and energy going forward. I wish you peace and acceptance and above all, I wish you always know that no matter what you have to say, I am listening. I will do for you today, tomorrow and forever, whatever it is you want or need.
And when my time comes, this will be buried with me: [you can click on the images to read the full letter – remember hit back in your browser to bring you to this page again]