On the First Anniversary of Your Death, the Letter You Never Read

Responding to your (hurtful) reply when I asked if you wanted me to come see you, about a month before your death.

I do hope you will be able to read this with an open heart and an open mind, for it is sent with love.

In 1976, I was five. I have no memory of my parents married or together. Certainly, your own choices, actions and in-actions have guided or influenced me as much as any of my mother’s have.

I take responsibility for myself, for the choices I’ve made. If I’ve hurt you. I am sorry. I have not been intentionally hurtful–rather, trying to navigate given my own limitations. I make choices which are heavily influenced by two Bible verses and by my own standards of how I can live (with myself) in this crazy world.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Learned that at Delta Lake camp when I was 12)

Romans 12:18 “In as much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (became really aware of this while learning how to manage my depression as an adult)

A part of your legacy (and my mother’s) is a commitment I made to myself during my sister’s funeral. I had just filed for divorce and he and I were in a volatile place. We had resorted to only communicating via email and avoided being in each other’s presence when the kids were around because it had gotten ugly. At the funeral, I was sitting in the second row on the left, facing the front of the room. He and our oldest son were sitting behind me–this man, with whom I had not had a kind moment for quite a while, had his left arm around my shoulders, holding me and leaning his head on my right shoulder while he held our son to us both with his right arm. I’ll never forget this gesture. I’ll never forget turning my head to the right–seeing my mother down the row from me, lost in her own grief. Then way, way, way across the room and down the row, seeing a glimpse of you, lost in your own grief. I thought “God forbid something were to happen to one of my children, their father would be the first person I’d go to, would be the person I’d share that experience with.” I felt very sad that you and mom could barely acknowledge, let alone comfort one another.

This became a foundational moment, a cornerstone for how I moved through my divorce and eventually, how I fostered a new relationship as a co-parent. It also guided how I accepted and encouraged my children’s step-mother. I remember thinking “in 30 years, this divorce and all of the heartache we’re going through now will simply be a part of the story. I will not carry bitterness” Not that that doesn’t require daily practice sometimes more than others–just that it is a fundamental part of my parenting. I was able to heal and to purposefully live into Romans 12:18 as best I can. I hope this has benefited our children in the way I believe it has.

I’m sad that you don’t seem to have been able to find similar peace. Sure, you’ve moved on and created your own life, new relationships… but you seem bitter and that makes me sad for you. It has certainly impacted our relationship and the choices made.

I tell you this perhaps so that you might see some of my perspective and remember that for a long time, my perspective was one of a confused and wounded child!

I also tell you this so that you will know that I hold no resentment toward you. I hold no current pain for the little girl I once was. I have forgiven myself, learned to love myself and do hope that perhaps you will forgive me if that is needed, as well.

My most sincere hope, though, is that you will know freedom in understanding that I have also forgiven you. Perhaps all will be released back to God–it is not mine to carry (nor yours).

I will think of you–whenever I see deer or when I’m in my kayak on quiet water. I will think of you when my oldest learns to fly or when we discover some connection of genealogy together. (Remember that his name was inspired by our find that Griffin Craft was our first ancestor from Britain. He came over on the Arabella with Winthrop’s fleet and was a founding father of Roxbury, MA. He made rope and was a surveyor. I always thought it was interesting that his son, John, married a woman named Susanna White. You and I dug all of that up at the library in Portsmouth when you visited, just before I found out I was expecting my first child.)

I will think of you and I will remember to live in peace. I will hope the same for you.  


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4 Comments on “On the First Anniversary of Your Death, the Letter You Never Read”

  1. Jaci Field Says:

    The last first is sometimes just as hard as the first one. Speaking your truth and feeling all of the feelings. Living in peace. And, passing on unconditional love are the ways you navigate all of this. Continue the good work, my friend. I love you beyond words. I am lifting you up today and sending a long hug. Well done, my love!!

    • wisetrout Says:

      Love you, grateful for you and for all of the ways you have witnessed and held space for my relationship with my father. I wrote this letter last year, but he died before he received it…so today was a way to release all that has gone before. Love you!

  2. Flynn Lisa Says:

    Beautiful. Healing. I honor you.

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