This is a letter my dearest in the world friend gave me the last time I saw her. Four weeks ago, December 18, 2011.


There it sits. Pristine. Unopened.

I couldn’t open it the last evening we were together with our families in St. Louis because I would cry. We both knew it would be a long time before we’d see each other again. So I saved the letter to open it later.

“We’ve been here almost a month, and you’re handling this move really well,” said my husband last week. “You’re not crying.”

No, I’m adopting the Midwestern attitude. Putting my head down to forge a life on the prairie. Onward and upward. Just. Work. Harder.

If I open that letter, I’ll disintegrate.

I’ll cry big tears when I think of all that’s been lost. At the same time, in front of me stands so much that’s been gained. The gains hold the tears at bay in a bittersweet tension.

Before we moved, parents from our son’s class at school had a going away party for us. My son asked why they were having it.

“Is it a birthday party?” said my seven-year-old.

His friend, whose family was hosting the event, was with us that day. “No,” he said. “It’s a you’re-going-away-forever party.”

Female Orpheus Fountain Figure by Carl Milles as seen at Missouri Botanical Garden

I intervened. “We’re not dying. We’re only moving.”

But moving is a sort of dying. All changes are. A beloved Bible teacher of my past used to say we first experience change as loss.

We held it together, as did most of our friends, through our goodbyes. Then there was that moment the day I rushed to the groomer’s to pick up the dog.

We wanted to have Ella groomed one last time before we moved. As I paid the sweet shop owner, told her goodbye and thank you for all her years of service to us, she began to sob.

“We’re really going to miss you and Ella,” she said.

Fear shot through the muscles in my face. Confusion billowed up in my brain. Not the groomer. She just couldn’t lose it. No, no, no.

“There’s something about those terriers,” she said and boohooed some more.

“We’ll miss you too,” I said helplessly. “I don’t know how we’ll ever replace you.”

And we won’t. We’ll find another groomer. We’ll find another salon, dry cleaner, church, and circle of friends.

moving truck

Another, but not a replacement.

That’s what I tell myself to keep from opening that letter. At least for now.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 NLT

Me, I’m a part of your Circle of friends. By Edie Brickell.

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Filed under family & friends, life

22 Responses to Unopened

  1. Dearest Aimee,
    You are such a kind spirit. I feel your angst in every word and admire your courage at forging ahead. With such wonderful memories you will always have a deep supply of battle tested solutions when the the tears come a calling. Love this post from start to finish but that is nothing new.

    Sending plenty of home-filled goodness your way, my friend…


  2. When it was time for Mr. Moody to transfer I looked at it as an opportunity to see more of the world. And it was. I have enjoyed all the new experiences I had. I have been gone almost 20 years and now I think I want to go home. The problem Stella and Mr Moody don’t want to leave this mountain. This is something I struggle with. However, I would not have change the past.

  3. I so understand where you are just six months ahead of you in this journey. I still can’t really think about all that we left behind because it hurts too much. The pain is too fresh. But, slowly we feel like we are emerging from the fog. There is still a ways to go, but it doesn’t seem so dark anymore. Blessings to you all! :-)

  4. Cheryl Brewer

    This one hits close to home!

  5. When I moved to California at the age of 25, my mother gave me a gift bag of treats to open along the way. One item was a letter in an envelope and on the outside was written “For when you REALLY feel like crying.” In the beginning, I didn’t open it because I was trying to be strong. To show that I could do it. A year later, she passed away.
    21 years later that letter, still unopened rides with me in the car every day. It’s moved from car to car over the years. My heart is with you Aimee, and thanks for the reminder of the beauty of friends and letters and knowing we’ll see each other again.

  6. It took me 3 months after we moved from WA to talk to my BF I’d left behind about how much she’d meant to me and would always mean to me. I still cried but at least I could hold it together afterwards. It’s tough stuff. You’re right, it’ll get easier but no replacements. Just additions. :D

  7. I know that feeling, too…. although in a different way. My best girlfriend gave me a little gift before I left Hungary: a little plush dog, from a Disney movie (I can’t recall which). It wasn’t until I was here in California when she told me she used to sleep with that dog when she was a kid, and gave him to me as a “comfort of home” gift. Since then, that pup has never left my bed :)
    And on keeping it up and holding together during the goodbyes… When I left, I had it just fine even when I said goodbye to my very best friend who drove me to the airport. I left Hungary on the plane, Budapest vanished from sight and Germany appeared. I went through transit, and boarded the plane that took me to San Francisco, non-stop, in a mere 13 hours. As the jet taxied out from the gate and the Frankfurt terminal drew further from me, my tears started up. It was final. I was going further away from home than I have ever been, and I’m not going back for a long time. That’s when it hit.

    Stay strong, Aimee… it will only get easier from here.

  8. Ginger Price

    Ugh, my dam just broke, I guess I fell out of the furrow. Many years later my heart still yearns for the last place I had established my life and community, so I understand how you feel. I am excited to see what this chapter looks like for your clan. Please give Ella a squeeze for me.

  9. Carrie

    Sounds like you could use a {{HUG}}. From a girl who has live in 4 countries and more than 7 US cities, I understand. Your anxiety about opening the letter is justified so long as you open your heart to the amazing things God has in store for you right where you are. Reminds me when I was living in the Netherlands and my mom came to visit. After she left it took me more than a month or two to wash her pillow case, I didn’t want to lose her smell. I would just hold it and cry…in hindsight it was so silly because she was only a flight and a phone call away. She wasn’t gone forever. :-)

  10. So ya know…. This month I stopped the drive back to Memphis to get my hair done. I’m going to be fine in St. Louis. I could open the envelope now and read the letter, cry, call the friend and still go on. But I understand that it takes a while to get there…. and know you will!

    • Well, I talked to my friend who authored the letter today. Planning a shopping trip in KC, halfway between St. Louis and Wichita. But I still haven’t opened the letter. Call it reverse processing. Denial works too…lol.
      PS: Where’d you go to get your hair done?

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