As I sat with her, she pulled the letter out, anxious to read his long lost words to me. His letter was filled with the kind of love that is built by time, by hardship and all of the “or worse” of the wedding vows. It was a love tried and tested, a love that saw sunshine and heartache, a love that got tired but kept going and grew stronger again day by day. It’s a love that goes beyond fairy tale to the place where devotion is proven and lived out and reciprocated moment by moment, choice by choice. He spoke of his utter contentment at where they wound up, at what they had done with a life of true belonging and friendship. They were words of reassurance. Words of understanding. Words of the great wisdom that often comes with experience.
They were the exact words that she needed.
After his death, she worried that she should have done more, should have served him better or made him more comfortable or made sure he knew how completely adored he was. And then, one spring day, she was gifted the answer through his own words. Words that she never thought would come her way again.
He had no idea how those words would impact her after his death, or how she would keep that letter close and read it multiple times a day as a way to feel closer to her best friend, gone on ahead. I don’t know if he hid that letter hoping she would find it one day, or if it slipped his mind and he never knew where it ended up. But I do know that God knew all along exactly where those words were waiting, and exactly when she would need to know about them, and I imagine He took great pleasure in watching her search through that old desk, knowing just what she would find there. Over and over again she has thanked her good God for such a gift.
As I sat in her sunny room and listened to the quiver in her voice while she read her husband’s words, I remembered once again the immeasurable impact of expressions of love. We don’t say what we know and feel and appreciate often enough. We assume things are understood, and we underestimate the impact of our words. Write letters. Leave notes. Drop words into the space between you, and fill the unsure hearts around you with concrete understanding of all that’s inside of you. We will never regret gifting sweet words to another.
She is well into her 80s. I suspect the piece of paper she discovered will be well-worn by the time she goes to be with the Lord. It comforts her and reassures her and reminds her of the great privilege of love, marriage, and a life lived for the glory of God. All of these things she already knew, but it has sure helped to hear it from her sweetheart. One day they will see each other as they were meant to be, and will know a love beyond anything that could be expressed in a sweet Christmas note. But until then, she has his words, she has the Word, and she has an ever-increasing excitement about what lies beyond this burdensome, beautiful life. Something greater still is coming.
This article originally appeared here.