Dear Beloved Husband,
Yesterday someone pointed to the sky. “It’s beautiful,” she said. I peered out the window to see a watercolor display of grays and blues. I find myself looking heavenward more often. “Away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Where is that exactly? I’ve noticed a lot of things I took for granted when you were alive.
- I loved being called Mrs. James Clark. I should have told you every day. Now people don’t know what to call me, so they call me Ms. Clark just to be safe. Though death parted us, I’m still proud to be associated with you.
- Remember the thermostat wars? You’d drop it down to sixty-three on cold winter nights to save a few bucks. I’d sneak out of bed and nudge it up to sixty-eight and resent your cheap side. Now I feel the weight you bore every day, being responsible for everything—the upcoming property tax, the mortgage, and college that loomed. I wished I told you a little more often you were an awesome provider. I wished I’d been your partner in saving money and not an adversary.
- I remember the countless times you asked, “What are your plans today?” I’d rattle off a to-do list a mile long, and you’d quietly say, “Oh, I’ll get out of your hair then.” Darling, I missed it. I’m so sad to hear now what you were trying to say then: “Do you have some time for me?” I had no clue we were running out of time.
- I get now why you hated going places without me—even mundane places like the grocery store or the cleaners. I hate it, too. Even when we were angry with one another, disappointed with one another, and cold to one another, we had one another. I wished I’d considered that running errands could be a great excuse just to be with you.
- When Anna and Nathan graduated from college, there was one seat missing. One less person beaming from the audience. You planned for that day even before they were born. You would have been proud of the people they have become. They missed you as much as I did that day. Remember the big plans we had to have a getaway weekend as soon as they graduated? We should have done it sooner.
- We missed you even more when Anna married. Of course, Nathan walked her down the aisle. Those two were always close; even their bickering showed their bond as friends. “No way I could take his place,” he told Anna. He felt that weight you bore, too. And just like you did, he picked up a task bigger than himself because he loved his family. There are a thousand ways a man loves his family. Many a woman can’t see. But you never demanded gratitude from me.
- Remember retirement plans? When we were old and our kids threatened to put us in a nursing home, we were going to get in that Mustang of yours and drive off a cliff. We were joking of course, but we liked the idea of going together. You came to your funeral far too early. Why did you always have to be in such a hurry?
I complained when you dragged us to church thirty minutes before the service started, but now I can’t kick the habit. I’ve also taken to your practice of praying before the service. What were you praying for, Love? For the lost to come to Christ? For your wife to come to her senses? For your kids? All of the above I suspect. I never noticed how much you prayed. Now I realize you had a constant, ongoing conversation with God. I have a lot to learn about prayer.
For the record, I fought for you, Love. I told God not to take you. I shook my fist at Him and told Him, “No. Not now. Not Jim.” Now I remember: You always belonged to Him first. How I wished I had reminded myself of that truth when I was angry with you.
- And about the Mustang. I resented we bought it. I thought it should have waited for retirement. How was I to know you’d wouldn’t have time to retire? In my mind, money was needed for other things (like keeping a thermostat at sixty-eight, for instance.) But now I can’t name one other thing we bought for you in twenty-seven years of marriage. I wished I’d noticed that too, before the funeral. You were always putting us before yourself. I feel your joy in that car, and I’m grateful now we bought it. I wish you had driven it every day.
- Thank you for building relationships with other godly men. Their devotion to you is reflected in their care for your widow. Bill and Cliff have guided me through taxes and probate court. Jeff has repaired the sprinkler system twice and fixed the washing machine. I wished I’d made certain you had more time with them. They made you a better husband, and I’m sure they say the same of you.
- Remember when we talked about our funerals? “Oh, sweetheart,” you told me, “they will come from miles around to pay their respects when you go to glory.” The day of your funeral, the sanctuary was filled, as well as St. Andrews Hall and the building across the street. You would have been shocked to see all who came. You never ever thought too highly of yourself. I’m grateful so many others did.
I suppose we all would lament the things we took for granted when a loved one dies. Pity we can’t see them before the funeral. As I look back at that great sky, I’m grateful God has given me a way to say in faith, “Where O death, is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”
Until we meet again,
Love, Mrs. James Clark
Disclaimer: We pray only to the Lord. Our time to speak to our loved ones is when they are in the flesh. That’s part of why I wrote this article—to remind us all to do so. A letter to my husband is a writing style only and not an affirmation that we can speak directly to our loved ones after they have died. I hope some of this will resonate with and encourage you in your marriage.