Monday, April 13, 2009

The Keepsake Box

On Saturday, I wished I could hear Andrew tell me he loved me. You know how it is, wives, how we know that our husbands love us, but we need them to reassure us and hear it often? It's like we begin to doubt the obvious, no matter how many declarations of love or how many sacrifices our husbands have made for us.

I began to wonder, "Did Andrew really love me? Or did he just love me in obedience to God? Did he still have anymore real affection for me, even after five years of marriage had passed together? If he did, wouldn't he have written specific things he loved about me, rather than just saying the three words?"

I went upstairs to look at old cards Andrew and I had given to each other over the years. He had gathered them and put them in a file box of keepsakes before he died. I even found an old birthday card I had sent him two weeks late, September of 2002, in a shy, yet verbose, attempt to communicate with my secret crush. (It didn't cause him to suspect I had liked him, since, as I had witnessed, he thought birthday cards from random girls were the norm at the time. Apparently, he preferred my three-page soliloquy, cause it made it past the trash).

Even though I had looked in the box since Andrew died, I had missed something. Amidst the cards there was a sealed envelope: "To Grace and kids," it said on the front. "Only open if something happens to me."

Inside were three letters, one for each of us. I vaguely recalled that he had written them before his last surgery, March of '08.


My sweet sweet Grace. I love you so much. There is no other woman in the world like you. I wish we could take another walk together and hold hands like we used to do at night around the apartments at UCLA. I love to hold your hand and swing it back and forth and just listen to you talk about everything. I love watching you read your script off the top of your eyelids and all the facial expressions and body movements that help express your feelings. The amazing thing is that you somehow are able to get all of those rich expressions and emotions onto paper when you write. Keep writing and publish our book.

I love your smile, and your lips...You are such a great mom. Keep loving our kids and training them and teaching them about everything. When you correct them, remember that it is a gift of love to our children just as cancer is a gift of love to us.

I love you so much. I wish I could embrace you right now. Know that I am with the Lord rejoicing and praising God without the pain of sickness. Go on living like normal. The Lord will take care of you and the kids. He is a faithful, loving Father.

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
- Isaiah 41:10

-- Superman

Tuesday, March, 18, 2009

Dear Andrew David Mark,

I'm going to have surgery this Thursday and I wanted to write you a letter to tell you how much I love you. The Lord has blessed me with such an energetic and curious young boy. I hope to be able to see you grow up into a strong young man. You have such a tender heart towards other people and I can see it in the way you love your mom and your sister. Today Gracie was going up the steps into the mud room and she dropped her cup. Since she has difficulty going backwards on the steps and we were all waiting for Gracie to get out of the way, you reached down and got her cup and handed it to her with a big smile so that she could continue up the steps. I also love how you pay attention to details like when you were just 2 years old. I kept calling you "Superman" when you were wearing a Spiderman outfit, and you politely corrected me. Or the time I put you in the wrong car seat and you kept saying, "I want that one," pointing to your car seat on the other side of the car. You're always paying attention!

I also love how you have so much energy. You wake up early and play in your room. When Mama gets you up, you run downstairs and get a pull-up and run back up and put it on yourself. Today you had so much energy, you were running in circles downstairs from the kitchen to the living room, to the foyer and back to the kitchen.

I can already tell that you are a very talented person. Keep your head on straight and keep working hard even if things seem to come easily to you. Stay close to the Lord, and pray a lot. Take care of your mom and yours sister. Love you so much.

Proverbs 3:5-12

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.

Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
or loathe his reproof,
for whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

-- Papa

Dear Grace Olivia Mark,

You have always been a bundle of grace in my life. Since the day you were born, I could always look at you and know that God is good. The first time I got to cuddle with you in the hospital, I was so happy that the Lord had given us another child. You were such a tiny baby wrapped up that I was able to hold you with just one hand. I love your smiles and your sweet kisses. Whenever I ask for a kiss you always give me one right on the lips.

You love to cuddle and press your cheeks against mine. Just a few weeks ago we found out that my cancer was much worse than we expected. That morning you had just woken up and your mom was crying and I was feeling scared. I picked you up and you hugged me and clung to me in my lap for about half-an-hour and comforted me. Right now you are learning to talk and you make up your own words like, "Mapa," and "Dat Un," or "Down Er." Since you love to eat one of your favorite words is, "Mo-a."

Perhaps one day you will be a performer. You already love to dance and you've got a voice that carries. Most of all, love the Lord, and learn all you can from your wonderful Mama. The Lord has blessed you with a very special Mom to learn from. And if I'm not around, please remember that the Lord is your Father and your Husband. Keep close to Him and you will be satisfied. I love you.

Psalm 68:3-19

But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God;
Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts,
Whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him.

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.

God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,
Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

O God, when You went forth before Your people,
When You marched through the wilderness, Selah.

The earth quaked;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Isreal.

You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God;
You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched.

Your creatures settled in it;
You provided in Your goodness for the poor, O God.

-- Papa


  1. What a wonderful reminder of Andrew's love for you. Isn't it so neat how God brings us just what we need at the right time? We continue to pray for you.

  2. So precious. I'm in awe of your love for each other!

  3. It's hard to put into words how those letters make me feel when I read them.

    They make me appreciate the love that God has for me in the blessing that he has provided through my own child (we waited on the Lord for 8 years for our first child).

    Andrew had an appreciation for the simple things in life. The Lord is teaching me through that simple devotion.

  4. What a blessing to find these at this time...The Lord knew just the right time for you, and allowed you to find them just now....We are all blessed by your open heart and willingness to share...I pray that you feel God's arms wrapped around you...My son and I pray for you and your children every night! Blessings and Love in Him~Janine (Julie's friend).

  5. andrew does love you! these letters are so genuine and i dont even know andrew but i can tell they came from the heart and it even encourages me to love like a man of god.

  6. A friend of mine told me to visit your blog and I just wept reading this. What an amazing husband and friend he was! And yes, I know what it is like to need to hear those 3 words from your spouse :-) I need to hear them everytime I get a chance, even with my husband being in a different country because of the military. Your sweet love proclaimed those words to you again in such a powerful way. What a wonderful God we have that would let you find that wonderful surprise at this time when you needed it most.... Thank you for sharing your life and love with us...