Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: A Letter From Beyond
By Leola Ogle
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Anne shivered despite the warmth of the day. Sunlight filtered through the window making splashes of patterns upon the bed. She knew she needed to get up. Today she had determined to finally go through Jared’s room.
Jared! His name brought an avalanche of the familiar pain of suffocating in an ocean of hurt, disbelief, anger, but mostly guilt.
Oh, God, she moaned softly. Please tell me why? I want my son back. Did I do enough? Where did we go wrong? I miss my son! Will this pain ever end?
She struggled to sit up. Her body felt immobilized, her sensed seemed dulled by drugs. She felt ancient, although she was only 45. It had been a year now. She desperately wanted the healing to begin.
Walking to the kitchen, she felt exhausted despite ten hours of sleep. Somehow she managed to choke down toast and coffee. Stalling, she laid her on the table and sobbed until her ribs ached, and her eyes were puffy and swollen. The ringing of the phone startled her. She sucked in great gulps of air hoping to steady her voice.
She spoke briefly with her daughter Abby, and her two year granddaughter, Emily. Emily babbled excitedly, and ended with “bye-bye, grammie, I love you.”
Anne smiled in spite of herself. In those early days after Jared’s death, she would hold Emily for hours. Somehow she felt that Emily was God’s way of saying that love goes on, life goes on.
She entered Jared’s room as she had many times over the past months. She closed her eyes, flooded with images of him over the years. She gently ran her hand over his bed, lifting his pillow to her face. She opened the closet, letting her fingers stroke his baseball jersey. She sighed deeply, feeling a peace descend upon her, and an almost palpable presence warm her.
She gazed at all the trophies and awards. Jared loved sports, but his favorite was baseball. She lingered over the pictures of him with family, friends, sports, family outings, and his girlfriend, Carly.
What went wrong? When did Jared first start doing drugs? How did he hide it for so long, and how did the not detect the signs? Dave and Anne loved their children, they were a close family. They were all involved in church. They sent their kids to private Christian schools. How could this have happened? Weren’t they good parents?
Carly finally told them because she was so worried The confrontation turned ugly, with Jared storming out the door and staying gone for two weeks. He had finally returned home, and they insisted he get help. It was finally decided he would go to a faith-based program in another state where they knew the director.
Anne spoke with him on a Sunday night after Jared had returned from chapel service, exuberant about what God was doing in his life. Tuesday he called again, sound distraught and frightened because he was craving drugs. He broke down crying, begging to come home. She encouraged him to stay strong, and with aching heart, she had hung up the phone.
They received the devastating call the next morning. Jared had hung himself with his belt. How do you cope with losing your child like that? Anne had plunged into a dark valley of pain.
Her eyes were drawn to the box of Jared’s belongings in the corner of the room, returned to them after his death. It had sat unopened for a year. She knelt beside it, and with trembling had, hesitantly opened it. Jared’s Bible was on top. She gently lifted it, holding it softly against her bosom. Opening it, she saw the letter that began “Dear mom and dad.”
In shaky handwriting, he spoke of his childhood memories, his love for his family and friends. He shared his struggle to break free of the insidious bondage of drugs, his determination to conquer it. He asked for forgiveness, saying he knew he was on the right path now. He had a desire to found a ministry someday to help other kids.
Tears softly drip off Anne’s chin. She would never know what happened between the writing of this letter and Jared taking his life. But she knew what she must do.
Anne’s family founded the ‘For The Love of Jared Ministry’ and dedicated their lives to reaching out to all the Jareds in the world. There the healing began.
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