Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To Remember or Forget?

Everyone has a list of things they need to do in their lives. Personal goals they have to accomplish.

I have had two childhood friends die. One while we were in the eighth grade, one while we were seniors. Both times, they were no longer "active" friends in my life, but I thought of them often, and fondly. I still do. Having had them in my life touched me. I am a different person because of them. If they had not died, I believe I still would have fond memories of them. Because they did die, I have always felt the need to let their families know that they are still thought of. That someone outside of the family remembers their daughter.

I have also wrestled with the dilemma: Is it better to tell someone you still think of a departed loved one, or not bring up such a painful subject?

In a very weird series of events this morning, I came across the name of the father of my friend that died in high school. If it is not her father, it must be an uncle. No one else has this name, it is even more unusual than mine. I cannot believe that it was an accident that I stumbled across his name. I felt moved to write him a letter, to tell him. I typed it out and really went back and forth on sending it. His daughter died in 1991. Would he want to know that I think about her?

I finally decided, yes. I can only judge a situation through my own eyes. And if I lost one of my precious children I would like to know that some part of them lives on in the hearts of others. I think he should know that his daughter lives in my heart--and so I hit Send. Here is the letter. Names are changed to protect the family. I hope I did the right thing.

Dear Dr. S,

It has been a strange confluence of events that brought me across your information today, but I felt moved to send this letter to you. I hope you do not find this letter inappropriate, or that I have the wrong doctor. If so, I apologize profusely.

I was a classmate of your daughter, K. I moved away after our sophomore year in high school, but during those first two years at school name I considered K to be one of my friends. I wanted to you know that I still think of her. Quite often, actually.

See, I married a man from Sweden. My life, through college and today, has been touched by international influences. K was one of the first people I met from another culture and another religion. I met her at a time when I could actually think about such things, about the meaning of it all. She impacted me deeply, and I can say for certain that meeting her changed the path of my life. Her life, and especially her death greatly shaped the person I am today. I firmly believe the cultural company that I keep and my ideas on religion are all intimately tied to the short time I knew K.

I am sorry if reading this has caused you pain, but it is something I have wanted to share with your family for a long time. That there is someone out in the world who still thinks of your daughter. Someone who still tells stories of her and passes on the bright spark of laughter she shared with me. She is fondly thought of, and my children shall know of her.

All the Best,



Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Hon, I think that's a great letter. I sometimes wish I could get in touch with the parents of one of my best friends in high school who committed suicide. I think it would not only comfort me, but them as well, to know that Mark is still fondly remembered and thought of.

I think you did a good thing.

Blue Momma said...

I'm with Heather. I think you did a good thing, too. I know if I was that parent I would appreciate it.

Unknown said...

I think that would be nice to receive as a parent. I am certain it will bring a smile to the dad.

Crystal said...

I think that was a wonderful letter! I am inspired to begin my letter that I have thought of writing every day for the last 6 months.... To the donor family that saved my son's life.