PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Letters To Self

Three months ago, I attended the last session in a five-part series through Kansas City Hospice. It was a structured group designed to address the first year of grieving. On that last day, we wrote ourselves letters, and I made a mental note to brace myself to see my own handwriting in the pile of mail around early November.

Well, the letter came on Tuesday, but that was book club night, so I didn't open it. Last night, I paused, picked it up, and then set it back down. My headache didn't really fade until close to bedtime & I slept for over ten hours. This morning, I told myself I'd open it, and got all the way out to the car before I realized I'd left it inside. I waited for the alarm to set itself, and then went back in. Re-set the alarm, back out to the car. Sat in my car, and read the words I'd written to myself. Purple ink on pink paper, too. And I cried, but it was a mixture of emotions - I'm sad, I was surprised to see that indeed, I had made some progress (here were also things I hadn't yet done), and I was shocked by my own wisdom and perspective. Because I wrote the letter, honestly, as if I were a parent writing to a child, with my hopes for myself, and with humor, and with love. One thing I'd hoped for myself did come true - I'd hoped to be less angry, less desiring of punching things. Anger has been replaced with sadness, which I suspect will take a lot longer to fade, and ultimately will never leave me.

I think everyone who goes through a major life upheaval should do this very same thing - and give the letter (all set to go - stamped & addressed) to a trusted friend. There's something very different about opening a letter than re-reading a blog entry, or flipping through a journal. At least it was for me. I won't write it all again here (some of it is just between me & me ;) ), but here are a couple of paragraphs that resonated.

Dear Jennifer,

This has been a rough summer for you, and hopefully things have gotten a little easier. I hope that you've been able to write about some of your favorite "Dad" memories - and that it feels OK, maybe even good. {note - haven't quite done this one yet!} I want you to remember him, every day, even if it's in a joke or a smirk or an angry political reaction - he's living on inside you and it's ok to remember the good times.

Remember to tell all those friends, family & your husband that you love them. Thank them again for all that they did & continue to do. Remember how much your dad loved you - it never leaves you. You will always be his princess, his Fergendorfer, his little girl.

Start looking at the types of grasses you & James will plant in your memorial garden next Spring. Make sure you still know where those Suburban gift cards are. {this made me laugh}

Don't worry. As he said in his last true conversation with you: it will all be OK.

It will. {this made me cry, both sad tears and joy tears.}

posted by PlazaJen, 10:46 AM