Dear David…

 In Grief

“Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

In an Email last week, my youngest sister Vanessa reminded me that 2/24/12 would mark the 19th anniversay of David’s death. I was alone when I read it and soon its message was blurred by my cascading tears. Tired from a long day at work, my defenses were unhinged, permitting my raw emotions to flow like hot lava spewing out of an awakened volcano. Grief is a life long journey, and I felt my feet touch down on its familiar path once again.

Of course I knew the date. I prepare myself for it every February. I have written thousands of words about my grief journey. But today I decided to write to my late husband.

So here it goes…

Dear David,

How are things in Heaven? I am sure that every day is perfect and that mortal words cannot express its beauty.

I have so many questions, but I am not sure how you can answer them. Death is the fence that separates us, and I am not allowed to climb over it. And so the immeasurable distance between us fosters a sense of mystery. The answers I crave can only begin with your energy, and then I have to fill in the rest. I am curious. Do you still have to shave? Do you ever need to rest or are you always listening? Is it crowded in Heaven?

In your final days on earth you shared a dream about the afterlife, remember? You rolled down the window of the vehicle that was soon going to carry you away from us just a crack, and you shared a glimpse of your destination. You said, “…it’s so beautiful…such bright lights…”. I wish I could know more.

Of course you understand how devasted we were when you left us nineteen years ago. It is still sometimes difficult for all of us to realize that it wasn’t a bad dream. Did you know that Harry even felt your absence? At night before he jumped into bed with me ( yes, he took over your side of the bed, snoring just like you did), Harry would linger at the top of the stairs with his head cocked to one side to listen for your footsteps. I hope that he found you when we said goodbye to him eight years ago. Is there a separate section for dogs? I didn’t think that God would keep you two apart. Now that both of you are free from your earthly, medical leashes, I bet you are taking many long walks together.

Can you believe that “little” David turned forty this year? Gee, you had three kids and two wives at his age! Remember when I met him for the first time? We coaxed your cute, blonde four-year-old son out of the back of your Pinto station wagon with the promise of a Pepsi Light! He still has that wide grin and is happy in Dallas.

Samantha now understands your pre-mature career advice. Her independent, Irish-German spirit however led her to law school where she performed brilliantly. Remember the picture of you and me in front of the Villanova Law School sign taken at your graduation? Well, she and I have one just like it taken on her day.

Wasn’t Sam a beautiful bride? Did you notice her diamond heart necklace? A jeweler  turned my engagement ring into a pendant for her to wear on her wedding day so that she could feel your love as she walked down the aisle. I had both happy and sad tears that day, but I don’t think that anyone knew the difference.

Did you really know your grandson before we did? We suspected that you and Max David knew each other in Heaven before he came to earth. His wide eyes would fixate on your picture on Sam’s nightstand when she changed his diaper. It was as if he was listening to an old friend giving him advice from afar. One day when he was two years old, he marched right up to your picture at Nanny and Poppy’s house and greeted it with a familiar, “Hi Grandpa David!”. I believe that he truly knows you and that you two have a special connection. He especially likes the picture of you in your flight suit standing next to your P-3. He wondered once if one of your planes could bring you back, just for one day.

I guess parenting never stops, even from a distance. Thanks for taking care of Samantha and her unborn daughter during those last few months. We didn’t think the baby was going to make it full-term, but out popped Charlotte on the Fourth of July like a little firecracker! She hasn’t stopped smiling and laughing yet and she has your twinkling eyes. She and Max have become best buddies, just like Sam and Rick.    ( We did a good job!)

Everyone says that Rick looks exactly like you. His wide smile and thin build certainly match. But most of all, his gentle, kind spirit reminds me of you. Aren’t genetics fascinating? He was not savvy enough at age ten to know how to mimic your gestures, yet he now puts his hand on his waist with his fingers splayed, exactly the way that you did! Are you sure that you didn’t teach him that GQ pose before you left?

I followed your advice and got remarried. You would like Tom. He admitted when we were dating that it would be difficult to live in your shadow. He knows what a special man you were and he is glad to be a part of our family. It was hard to pack up fifteen years of memories and to sell our home, but Tom deserved a fresh start.

People still remember you. And thank goodness you left good memories! David, Sam and Rick are so proud of your legacy and fully understand the importance of living a good life. I wonder sometimes how life would have been different if the accident never happened. But I know that God did not punish us. It was our fate. The chapters of our story were already penned. We just had to wait to turn the pages.

Remember when I whispered to you, “I will be alright”? Well, I have to admit that I do not know why I said those words to you then. I didn’t want you to suffer any more and I thought that you needed to hear my permission to be free to go. But I am “alright”. I feel your strength everyday and your support to love again and to live happily. I suppose that God wisely prompted me to utter that message. He knew what was to come.

Don’t worry about writing back.  I’ll know when you have read my letter when you “whisper” to me again.

With love,


“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” (Steve Jobs)




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  • VBurgess

    What a special letter to David. I’m sure he is smiling and his eyes are twinkling like Rick’s. So many wonderful things have happened in the 19 years since his death and I’m sure that he has been a guiding light with you leading the charge.
    And then came Tom – a brave man to step into the family.

    • Kim K Meredith

      Thanks Van! You were there at the very end with me. And yes, Tom is brave. The shadow is large, but so is my heart.

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