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Dear Nattie,

This is such a hard, hard letter to write! I still can’t believe that you’re really and truly gone, let alone that it has been nearly a year since you went home to heaven. It’s not hard at all to imagine you there, though, worshipping God with all your heart and soul, no doubt singing praise and worship choruses. 🙂 Would you believe we now attend the more contemporary worship service at church?! I often think that you would chuckle if you knew that. Uncle Roger decided he wanted to—I’ll spare you the reasons; as you can imagine they are complex—and it really was a “God thing” since Melissa decided right after that that she wanted to start coming to church with us. Of course, second/contemporary service is better for her, with having to get baby Isabelle up and around.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Yes, Phillip and Melissa got married, just weeks before Isabelle Eve was born on November 13th, one day after her Granne’s birthday. Phillip was deployed on December 10th. He got to be home for Christmas and New Year’s, but left for Georgia on January 2nd, and on to Iraq in early March. Any chance you can keep an eye on him from up there? Maybe pull a few strings? I don’t suppose you’ll actually want to leave the throne of Jesus to do so, but since none of us is 100% sure exactly what heaven is like, I thought I might as well ask. 🙂
One poignant thing I’d like to tell you is that Phillip is angry about your death, because you probably would have been diagnosed much earlier, while the cancer would still have been treatable, had you had insurance. I didn’t realize he felt that close to you, but then I shouldn’t be surprised—the picture of the two of you that keeps floating through my head is the one when he was maybe three and you were still a preteen. It was obviously physically challenging for you, but Grandmother, your mom, David, you and Phillip were standing in front of the Dixie Queen on Lake Webster, and you were holding Phillip in your arms for all you were worth, with a huge smile on your face!
Another piece of family news it that Laurie, Jeremy and family have moved from California to Kansas. We are thrilled that they are closer. Also, David and Michelle are expecting #6 in September. That will be grandbaby #12 for us! Whew!
My biggest regret for the past year is that I have done almost nothing to keep in touch with Jonathan and Anna. Wes has offered to bring them any time we want them, but I’m so busy with Melissa and Isabelle, so tired from that and from work, and feel so inadequate, that I’ve not made the effort to see them. I feel like I’ve let you down. I did take your daddy, and Grandmother, down to meet them at McDonald’s before Christmas. Your Aunt Marty met us there, too, and Angel brought the kids. It was wonderful to see them happy and well cared for.
Jennifer Chiaverini has published two books since you left us, and Ann B. Ross, one. (I e-mailed Ann to tell her you had died. She sent back the nicest e-mail, saying that she did indeed remember us from the book signing we attended just weeks before you died. She said that particular signing was one of her smaller ones, but that it had seemed special somehow. She thought in retrospect that perhaps it was because you were so close to heaven!)
I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I’ve thought of you over the past year. Just a week ago I had to run down to Noblesville, and because of construction on 37 and for a couple of other reasons, I zigged over through Elwood, and then on my way back zagged through Anderson and up through Alec. How painful that trip was! Not that I haven’t gone through all of those place multiple times in the past 12 months, but to go through them all in one evening, and so close to the anniversary of your death—it seemed I should be seeing you just around every corner. Many times I have to remind myself that, “You give and take away, You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.”
Well, this is getting too long. Your daddy may have to edit it before he posts it. There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll close. You will always be in my heart. See you soon!
Much love,
Aunt Anne
PS to Nattie’s parents: Thank you so much for the gift of Natalie Rose. I have such wonderful memories of several favorite aunts—Aunt Becca, Aunt Eunice, Aunt Rachel—and I always wanted to be special in the lives of my nieces. Natalie was the only one (of course, I have very few!) with whom I got to develop a loving friendship. Without you that would not have been possible. While I’m sad beyond words that that chapter of my life is closed, I’ll be forever grateful that it was ever written at all.

4 Responses to “Dear Nattie,”

  1. Windy Cobourne Says:

    Anne, this letter is so touching. Unfortunately I did not join W@H long before Nattie passed away, so I did not get to know her very well. But I have enjoyed getting to know her through the loving words of her family and friends. She has certainly left a legacy in the lives she touched. My prayers and thoughts are with you and her friends during this tough anniversary week. (((HUGS)))
    -Windy from W@H

  2. Amy Jo Says:

    I was ok until I read the very last sentence.
    I still expect to see Nattie posting on W@H.

  3. StephanieG Says:

    Such a beautiful letter.

  4. Cynthia Says:

    …blessed be His name. (((hugs)))

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