You Write A Letter

old_stoveWhen I was back in Missouri a few weeks ago, I visited family and friends.  I also visited families of friends.  I spent one evening with Mrs. Owens, a favorite among the mothers of my kidhood; a sweetheart I’ve known since 7th grade and in whose kitchen there was always something on the stove.  When I walked in the back door and gave her a big hug, Mrs. Owens had a casserole warm and waiting on the burners.  “Are you girls hungry?” she said, just like old times.

Mrs. Owens recently lost her oldest daughter.  The casserole, delivered during the funeral, had been frozen since then and she thought it would be the perfect thing to share.  When I asked how she was doing, she said she’d loved all of the cards and letters she’d received and was sad that they’d stopped coming.  They made her feel better.

When I got back to California, the first thing I did —- really, the very first thing —- was to sit down and write Mrs. Owens a letter.  I wrote about how great it was to see her.  I wrote about her daughter who died; about how much fun she was; about how she’d never treated us younger kids like we were “younger kids;” about how Mrs. Owens’s house was, and still is, one of our favorite places to be.


Image 3Yesterday afternoon, our sweet Annie Belle died suddenly on our living room floor.  She’d been at the vet all day for tests — she’d not been feeling well — and we’d only been home for a 1/2 hour when she passed.  As shocking as it was, I was also relieved.  Annie was 12 years old and part of our family for 7 months, but she’d been suffering some lately and I was thankful she went out of this world on her own terms, surrounded by those of us who adored her.

I woke up so sad this morning, missing the big dog who slept so happily on the floor by my bed, and knew immediately what to do.  I found Annie’s adoption papers in my files.  On the first page I saw the name and email address of the woman who surrendered Annie to Lab Rescue.  Here’s how she answered two of the questions on the form:

Reason for placing:  :  We planned to find Annie a home for my sister who had planned to leave her at a shelter.  I’ve had her for over a year, but my house is already full with kids and pets so I can’t keep her.  Annie is super sweet, affectionate and loves people.  She spent many years alone in my sister’s back yard and now gets anxious if left outside alone.

Please include any other information which could be helpful to the dog’s new owners:  Annie is so gentle — she just needs lots of love, walks, pets on the head, hugs and kind words!

So while I had my morning coffee, I sat down and wrote this woman some kind words, a letter telling her that Annie had died peacefully, that she lived a wonderful life here, that we loved her to pieces, that the whole neighborhood adored her, and to thank her for calling Lab Rescue.


What do you do, when you don’t know what to do?

You write a letter.

20 thoughts on “You Write A Letter

  1. Mary

    This is so beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes! Keep writing those letters of love and sharing your lovely words with us.

    1. Teri

      Thank you, Mary. I wanted to end this post with: “Is there a letter you need to write?” But no need. We all know who needs to hear from us, right?

    1. Teri Post author

      I hear you. I could write a letter a week. I should write a letter a week. I want to hear about your letter!

  2. Lyra

    Wonderful, Teri. Beautiful writing and well, you know how I adore hand-written notes. It’s that extra bit of effort that means so, so much.
    I have two cards to write and I haven’t quite come up with the words. One is to one of my dearest friends that I’ve known since kindergarten whose mom recently passed away. It broke my heart that I couldn’t make it to the wake and funeral as I couldn’t swing it to get to New York. The other is to her dad. The words just aren’t there yet to say how sorry I am and what a loss, a void she leaves behind. She was one of the moms, you know?
    After reading this though, it makes me think maybe I just need to get them in the mail sooner than later. It’s just really important to me that I say something, but the words are still foggy, as I’m sure their lives are right about now…

  3. Catherine

    Beautiful post, Teri. I’m a letter-writer too. I think words hold everything that a hug can’t convey. Sorry for your friend’s daughter, and sorry for lovely Annie – I remember when she walked into your life. Xcat

  4. jpon

    This may sound a bit unusual, but from time to time I recall an old episode of the show “Taxi.” Alex’s dog was old and dying, and of course the vet recommended he be put to sleep. But Alex refused, and took time off from his job to stay with the dog until he died on his own terms. When you have a dog you love, you think about those things.

    So sorry to hear about Annie Belle’s passing.

    1. Teri

      This doesn’t sound unusual at all, Joe. In fact it makes the most perfect sense to me.

      Speaking of sounding strange…. when I took Annie to the vet in the morning, a woman walked in with a Norwegian Elkhound. I have not seen a Norwegian Elkhound since I was 13 —- my aunt and uncle had one that they loved dearly and I remember his tragic death. When that dog walked in I thought, this is Annie’s last day. I just knew.

  5. Tara DaPra

    This was really beautiful and sad. It reminds me that we can’t take away another’s pain, but we can be present to witness and share it. This is part of why we write, too, yes?

      1. independentclause

        That is lovely.

        I remember all the people (former coworkers, high school friends I hadn’t talked to in years, etc.) that wrote me condolence cards when my mother died, but never what they said. It didn’t matter what they said.

    1. Deb

      “It reminds me that we can’t take away another’s pain, but we can be present to witness and share it.” I love that Tara. So true.

  6. Deb

    This is such a touching post. Within your words I find a safe, bittersweet place where grief coexists with beauty. Not an easy feat. So glad there are people like you out there, Teri.

  7. independentclause

    I got a letter by email that I very much needed yesterday morning. I love handwritten notes, but sometimes the reaching out and the “yes, me too” or “I’m thinking of you” is all that matters.

  8. Jan Elfrink

    Sent from my ASUS Eee Pad

    Carter Library wrote:

    > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ Teri posted: “When I was back in Missouri a few weeks ago, I visited family and friends.  I also visited families of friends.  I spent one evening with Mrs. Owens, a favorite among the mothers of my childhood friends; a sweetheart I’ve known since 7th grade and in whos”

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