A lot of people say that those who have gone on before the rest of us, can see and observe what is happening down here on earth. Some, even talk to those who have passed away. I don’t know if people in heaven can see and hear us or not. That’s probably not important. But I do feel it is therapeutic for us left behind to bare our souls from time to time, whether we address our loved ones gone before us or another sympathetic ear. So, here’s my letter to you, Amber, one year after your having gone ahead of me. Allow me to share some of my heart as I have desperately tried to process my own loss and grief.
I have heard grieving parents (usually elderly) saying “No kid should ever precede their parents!”, and I feel that way too…whole-heartedly! But it feels almost sinful to hear a grandparent have to say that kind of thing, like it is really perverse! That’s very much how I feel about you leaving us so early. It would have been tragic if your parents were my age and you had left, but for your parents to be not even 40 and have to bury their daughter, that feels like just too much to bear. How can I be grieving my own loss and at the same time try to comfort my son and his wife? It’s a hard road to travel. I cannot even imagine (and I certainly hope to never experience) how impossibly tough this must be for your parents! It has been a year now and you would think even those close to you should be managing a bit easier by now. But instead, I find things feeling pretty much the same. The pain may not be quite as sharp, but now there’s this constant dull, ache, that never seems to go away, this lump in the throat whenever I think of you or see your photo.
Dear Amber, I so wish we had been able to get to know you better, our first grandchild! But the geographical distance between us prevented that. How I looked forward to having ‘girl talks’ with you, of hearing your hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, your vision for your future, as well as who your latest crush was. I wish I could have been there for you to unburden your heart to, to tell your frustrations to, to be someone to whom you could pour out your heart. But, alas, all the “I wish”s and the “If only”s can drive us crazy as we try to piece together what could possibly have gone so wrong or how we might have been able to prevent things happening the way they did. So, it seems best to not even go there.
Lately, whenever I see a photo of you online, at home on my wall, or in a photo album, I get a sad wistful feeling and remember the days, when you were so alive. I always enjoyed seeing you twirling – such grace and passion in your movements, such concentration and dedication to your craft! You were definitely the Checkers Queen whenever we came for a visit, beating me nearly every time. And I always thought I was pretty good at checkers! Then, do you remember the puzzle marathon, Christmas of 2016? You really wowed us with the sheer volume of pieces you found and with lightning speed! You know, I never even knew you ever did rock climbing! I only found this out very recently when your dad posted a photo of you doing so. I would have loved to see you do this. I feel like I have missed out on so much. Remember the yearly gingerbread house decorating contests? Don’t tell anyone, but I usually secretly voted yours the best of the lot.
Then, of course, there was your involvement with Operation Christmas Child. Rarely, have I seen such dedication and love like yours in someone so young, as you packed each box with care, thinking of and praying for the child who would receive that box. I never got to see this firsthand myself, but I’ve certainly received enough reports and seen enough photographic evidence to know this was true. But I did get to see you interacting with the younger children at church. Loving children seemed to be your enduring passion.
These are my few memories I have of you, Amber…too few, admittedly, but they’re all I have. I so wish I had more, but I’ll treasure these memories and others as I wait to see you again one day. Meanwhile, as we enter a 2nd year without you, I’ll cry and hope for a happy reunion one day. I love you, Amber. Always will.