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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dear Dave,

~ untethered ~
I slurp when I drink hot coffee or tea but you already knew that, didn't you? You were just too kind to mention it to me. That's one of the things I, already, miss most. Your kindness. Oh, don't get me wrong; you could be meaner than a two-headed snake when provoked but, ninety-nine percent of time, you were kind. In fact, I'm having trouble remembering those un-kind I won't try.

Today is the first week anniversary of your death. Will it always be thus? Counting the days, the weeks, the months, the years, the decades? Will it always hurt this much? I hope not. It's easy to see how people make really dumb mistakes when under duress. I find myself telling people things that are totally stupid, perhaps even, unintentionally, hurtful but my brain doesn't suss it out until later then I apologize only to have someone give me the gift of grace and say, “It wasn't meant that way nor did I take it that way.”

Although Melvin performed, heroically, CPR for more than half an hour, you died instantly; your great heart simply stopped. Another gift of grace; bless the name of God. Daniel and Charles heard their pagers go off and they came quickly; they helped keep the dogs calm. Melvin told me Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent parked himself at the bathroom door entrance and watched, carefully and intently, as you kneeled over Dave. Elizabeth and Mike, along with the rest of their EMT team came and they also did everything they could. It wasn't enough; God's love for you was greater than my love for you and you went Home. You were needed there more than can that possibly be? God granted you those last two gifts you so desperately wanted. He spared you the agony of the worsening pain of cancer and you died at home. For some reason, He choose not to give me my request; to be at your side at the end, yet I trust Him. His ways are not my ways...still, Beloved, I am struggling.
I was preparing for Mom and Daddy's 60th wedding anniversary party when Melvin got in touch with me. Until I understood, it was chaotic but there was nothing I could do at home so I stayed to do what I was asked to do for Mom and Daddy. It was surreal though, Dave, and I felt split in two, at one and the same time, floating and wading through mire. Beloved, I am struggling. 

Stephanie came home with me; we drove the truck back, loaded to the gills with furniture picked up along the way. Your Grandmother's pink, horsehair Victorian era sofa is now in our parlor just as you wanted. I'm not having it, nor the matching chair, re-covered. Perhaps, in time, I'll change my mind but now, for the immediate future, no more changes, please. No more changes. Steph and I also towed the new to me 1965 Scotty “canned ham” vintage camper. You know I'll never sell it, don't you, Dave? We bought that, sight unseen, when we were in South Carolina last month. Steph called me to say, “I found it!” and you and I bought it via e-mail, telephone and snail mail. What fun even though I knew you'd never go camping with me. You said, “We'll buy it for you because that's been a dream since I first met you but I'm not camping. The last time I camped, Uncle Sam paid me.” 

Looking back, we crammed as much life into living these last few months as anyone could have done. Did you know? Did you have some sort of premonition? I didn't. I thought we'd have until spring, at least until my birthday before we'd say good-bye. His ways are not my ways...Beloved, I'm struggling.

Dave, I kept my promises to you; no open casket and no public histrionics. There were almost one hundred people at visitation on Tuesday night. The casket was re-claimed barn wood made by the Amish and draped with the first quilt I ever made. When I'd complained about my mistakes, you'd say, “It's beautiful to me” and, towards the end, you asked if I minded draping it over the casket. Now I wish I had a picture but what I do have is the rocking chair they made from the same barn wood. It's in the kitchen where you used to sit; it brings me comfort.
You remember all those photos you picked out when you found out you had cancer? Kyle was here and he made it so we could see them on a television at the visitation; I think that was the first time they'd ever had photos on television at the funeral home. Everyone love watching the photos; the funeral director did a fabulous job. Bob and Joan said, “Dave's was a life well lived!” Wasn't that nice? It was also wonderfully true.

I've always hated those little pieces of paper at funerals so Kyle and I put together a program, he had it printed and it was made available at visitation and graveside service. We used a Celtic knot border and, in each corner, the Trinity symbol. Kyle did a great job; it was lovely.

Dawn, a blogger friend, gave the surprise gift of doing Sabbath Keeping last Sunday; the first quote was by J.M.M.Barrie from Peter Pan, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” You like that, eh? I can see you chuckling now. That was on the second page of your program; Dawn had so many wonderful quotes; they blessed me so much! So many from Tazewell and the e-community have written nice notes. Misha sent a lot of them and Timi, Jane and Lance have kept in touch via e-mail; they know you because they know me. What a wonderful gift you gave me this summer...that trip to Eastern Europe where friendships were made and forged. How you have blessed me all these years!

Graveside service at Hollywood Cemetery was, dare I say it, lovely. The day was beautiful; warmish and the overhead canopy of trees still shedding autumn leaves as sunlight flitted through almost bare branches. JW drove me, another gracious gift, and when we arrived, you were already there. There were so many people who came to show their love and respect for you. Jerome, of course, was late but only a minute or two. I loved it, such a sense of “normalcy” because he's always late. After the piper played “Going Home”, Jerome opened the service and then you would have laughed. Jerome said while he didn't know you well, he knew enough to know you were a man of strong character and will, secure in your masculinity and loved living with me on the farm. Then he said he knew these things because he knew me and it would take such a man to marry me. Everyone laughed; it's all true.

Dewey spoke next and talked of the times y'all had as stock brokers. He said, “Dave was steady and consistent, no one had to worry that the Dave they saw on Thursday was a different Dave they saw last Monday.” He said you had a moral compass that was true north. When he said that, my universe tilted, again, because I realized I was your magnet and I'd lost my bearing. God is my help meet now but I'm still tilted, still struggling, still off center and trying to find true north. Although you tried to prepare me, time and time again, the lessons didn't take as well as you'd hope. Beloved, I am struggling.

The American Legion folded and presented the American flag and thanked me, on behalf of a grateful nation, for your service. They gave you a 21-gun salute and played taps then Tom, the piper, played Amazing Grace. At the third verse, he turned and began walking away; we were left with the lingering notes of the pipes wafting across the graves. Everything, save the most important thing, was perfect. You were there but as the guest of honour, not by my side as you've been lo, these many years.

As many as wanted went to O'Tooles for sharing, caring, a meal, a beer or ice tea. I didn't want anything but then saw Carol had a dark beer; that piqued my interest so Joe ordered me one. It's called Legend by a Richmond micro-brewery; how appropriate!
So, here I am back to the first week of firsts. Daniel comes, almost every night, to check on me, yet another gracious gift. Gaynell just called to check on me, Steph calls every day and others call and send cards. People are so kind but my heart is torn. It's almost too much to bear yet I don't want them to not come by, to not call. Again, there's that feeling of being split in two, at one and the same time, floating and wading through mire. You were right, the loneliness is unbearable but I was right too. The dogs, although grieving, still need to be fed and I try, as much as possible, to help them grieve. I'm taking life slow and am hunkering down for the winter. Thistle Cove Farm will nurture and hold me close against the cold winds of winter; God will nurture and hold me close against the loss of you. Beloved, I'm struggling.

Blessings ~ Dave, a life well lived ~ people who came to visitation and graveside to show their love and respect for Dave ~ God, who holds me in His righteous right hand of mercy ~


  1. This was a beautiful love letter to your Dear, sweet Dave. Though I do not know you personally, your love for each other has touched my heart deeply. I pray for you daily, that you may find peace in God's love and in Dave's continuing love for you. God bless you and keep you.

  2. Oh I sit here with tear-filled eyes reading such a touching and love filled letter my heart aches for you. Wishing I could be there to give you a huge hug and comfort you. Your love for God & Dave are so clear...I pray that your pain eases. YOU ARE A BLESSED!!

  3. Oh Sandy, tears roll down my face as I feel your grief so near. Yes, you will count the days, the weeks, the months, the years. You may even count the minutes. Our losses this year have been so great. Our pain and grief so deep. But this I know, though they are not seen does not mean they are not near. All summer a beautiful blue butterfly greeted me as I was working in the garden....I believe my Dad was near just saying hello, helping me with my grief. I chit chatted with that butterfly and just when I needed it, the beautiful thing would appear. As the season drew to an end, I bid it one last time....not sure if I'd see it again, but by God's great goodness, I did and I said I'd see him again later . Thanking God that He let me feel my Dad's presence one last time before winter drew near. And as I said in March, "this I know, Spring always follows Winter." May you know and feel the love of those that love you. You have experienced something so deep and sweet with your Dave. I love you my friend.
    Diane@Peaceful Acres Farm

  4. Sandy,that was a very beautiful letter to Dave. My thoughts and prayers are with you. There are so many firsts you are having to deal with now but know you are a strong lady. God will carry you through. Hugs

  5. No words...just tears shared and prayers offered....

  6. Beautiful letter, Blessings my friend.
    I am praying for you.

  7. Beautiful, just beautiful! Much love, many hugs and more prayers heading your way.

  8. Sandra,
    You are in my prayers and I pray your grief lightens to a bearable level. Time is the only thing that helps. Take it one day at a time. I know we have never met and that doesn't matter one bit. Much Love.

  9. Thank you for so eloquently opening the window a "small crack" on your grief. I have only tears and prayers to offer. My God hold you close in his arms of love.

  10. I just love this. And he knows you are struggling. And he does watch over you. Look for signs, you will find them.
    Hugs to you and critters. It is wonderful that you all have each other, isn't it!
    much love and God bless, misha

  11. Anonymous4:01 PM EST

    Oh Sandra--Your letter is so beautiful! You are in my thoughts and prayers! I met you on Susan Branch's blog and send you love and contentment in the coming days.xoxo♥ Martha Ellen


    "I'm standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads his white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

    He is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last he hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, 'There, he goes.'

    Gone where? Gone from my sight - that is all.

    He is just as large in mast and hull and spars as he was when he left my side and just as able to bear his load of living freight to the places of destination.

    His diminished size is in me, not in him. And just at the moment when someone at my side says 'There, he goes!', there are other eyes watching his coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout 'Here he comes' "

    This quotation always give me strength. I think it is one of the most beautiful way of looking at our lives. You know how much I regard you, Sandra, and I will keep my candle burning for you. Marsha

  13. That was a beautiful letter to your husband. I know this time is hard for you and I am praying for you.

  14. Anonymous5:14 PM EST

    Thank you for sharing with those of us who wish we could have been there for you and Dave. I am praying for you, Sandra.

  15. Dearest Sandra....I am at a loss as to what to say. May His peace wash over you as you go thru this year of "firsts".

    In Christ alone,

  16. I've been praying this week that blessings be all around you. My prayers will continue. Wish I could be there to hug you in person. May you find a few moments of joy and peace this coming week. Hugs!

  17. This is the most beautiful post I have ever read.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you my sweet friend.


  18. Oh Sandra, I did not know until now. I'm reading your beautiful writing through tears. I send hugs and prayers.. it's all I know to do. I do know that God will indeed nurture you and comfort you. Bless you and yours. -Tammy

  19. The only words I can think to say is that I pray a cloak of strength and peace wraps around you and holds you tight and warm. God bless you.

  20. Sandra, I just stopped by to see you and I read your wonderful words which touched many hearts along with mine. Please know you are in my thoughts and my prayers...

  21. Such a beautiful letter to Dave, Sandra. Your love is for him pours through your words. So glad that you can write even in the midst of your pain. Writing out feelings and thoughts sometimes brings clarity and release. Praying for God to comfort and strengthen you.

  22. Sandra, I'm so very sorry to hear of your beloved Dave's passing.
    I once attended a funeral where the minister gave an analogy that has stuck with me.... he said that he looked at a piece of needlework that his wife was doing accidentally from the wrong side... it was pretty and colorful and had areas where it "made sense" but also had knots and odd looking color transitions, dangling threads etc. But from the other side it was a beautiful piece of art, nuanced and shaded with every stitch just so.
    Our lives here on earth can seem like that .... we're able to only see the bottom side while God sees from the top... and so sees a different picture.
    May God and friends and family hold you close as you grieve....... Much love, Grace

  23. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

    What a beautiful testiment to your precious husband. Let this letter serve as inspiration to all of us about true love.
    Take your time when grieving~to everything there is a season.
    Rest in the comfort of the Lord's strong arms. K

  24. God Bless and comfort you.

  25. Sandra...Dave will continue to show you the way. One day all of your memories will be filled with love and not sadness. I hope after everything calms down to a dim roar for both of us you will consider coming to Arizona for a few days and we can sit on the front porch and share all of the love we feel inside.

  26. Hello,dearest Sandra:
    How we have been touched by your incredibly tender and loving letter to Dave. Although his death was mercifully swift and without agonising pain, we cannot begin to understand how bereft you must feel having lost your constant companion, the love of your life, your very best friend, Dave.

    Through you, we feel we knew something of this towering strength of a man. An illness so bravely born, service to a nation so honourably given and friendships to so many founded and nurtured over the years. A life full of excitement and fun, all of which, the good and the not so good shared with you. Our hearts are saddened that things can never be the same again for you, dearest Sandra.

    But, we know that you are strong and brave, Sandra, in the sure knowledge of God's love for you. Thistle Cove Farm will provide you with its comforting routines, its beauty and its daily tasks. You will rise to those challenges, we know, and our thoughts and prayers are with you as you put one foot in front of the other to meet them. Best Love, Jane and Lance.

  27. what a beautiful post. so tenderly written. it touches my heart to read of such love. I pray you will find comfort and strength in the coming days.

  28. can't finish reading it right now - my heart is far too tender about this particular issue - saying farewell to our beloveds when we just are NOT ready Lord - we really aren't
    Love to you and continuing prayer for comfort in that struggling - it is just hard.

  29. ~ though the voice is silent... the spirit echoes still ~

    Love to you, dear Sandra -

  30. What a tremendous outpouring of love. You will have many moods in days and months to come. You have many friends here to comfort you in this your hours of grief. My heart is with you and many prayers. Hugs to you! LJ

  31. Sandra, I am also at a loss for words only prayers sent your way. Many many prayers will be sent over these mountains along with happy thoughts. Open your front door and let a nice soft breeze wrap around you and know it's my arms giving you a comforting hug. Wish I lived closer so i could help you on that farm thru these difficult days to come. Love ya!

  32. I'm so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  33. Bravo and Dave knows and hears your loving words. Sandra you are strong, stronger than you ever imagined. Be well my friend, it is a journey. And when the destination is reached the rewards will be great!

  34. No husband or wife could want for better words of love and loss than these. Your loss is temporary, but no less heart-breaking .Your reunion will be eternal. I pray God lets you FEEL Him wrapping you in His arms of true comfort and love Sandra.

  35. Oh Sandra, I sit here with tears flowing after reading this heartfelt love letter to your precious Dave. There are no other words that I can think of at this time other that to ask God to protect, help and bless you during this most difficult, sad and trying time.


  36. Sandra, I am here with tears rolling down my cheeks at your beautiful letter to Dave. I am so glad that you have such wonderful and supportive friends & family around you, as well as your beloved dogs; I can only imagine the depth of your grief but I wish you strength and courage to wake up each day and move through your day. You are in my thoughts & prayers~~

  37. Anonymous11:23 PM EST

    Sandra, I am so very sorry for your loss.
    I'm praying for you.

  38. Praying for you, Sandra. May He continue to hold you close.

  39. I'm so sorry for your loss, Sandra. Dave's service sounds lovely.

  40. ..............and Sandra,,,,,,,,you are were granted two requests..........when you see Dave again, he and God will tell explain about the still to you, Nancy


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