17 years ago.
That’s when we wrote the cards. It was my suggestion, my brother-in-law told me. I vaguely remember it. Evidently, I asked everyone to write a postcard for my 1-year-old niece, and to put it in a box — to be opened on her 18th birthday.
And here she was, tall, beautiful, ready to graduate high school. The box on her lap.
The first few cards were hilarious. Her cousins, all older than her, had dispensed wisdom with their teen and tween selves. They told her how they’d be rich, or have lots of kids, or how they’d buy her a car. We laughed at how some of these were so far off, and how others came kind of close.
The box had things like the price of gas. A headline or two. But then she picked up a card and tears started to flow. It was from “Papaw,” who we lost this January after a long battle with Alzheimers.
So she handed it to Amy, her next older cousin, sitting next to her. Amy got one word out and then crumpled. So she passed it to Melissa, my daughter. Melissa got one line out, and then she too broke down. Finally, the card was handed to my husband and he read his father’s words.
Karsyn, you are 1-year-old. You just gave me a sloppy kiss. You are so beautiful, and I know that you’ll be just as beautiful at 18. I hope that I am with you when you read this.
But he wasn’t with us.
And he hadn’t been with us for some time, even when he was alive. His spirit was there. Ornery. Funny. Yet distant and vacant, never knowing who we were. And in the end, it was the hardest of all.
That’s not who he was when my niece was 1. He was a strong man. He loved nothing more than having his family wrapped around him like a comfortable blanket. He poked and prodded, joking and kidding. He was the chairman of the board, several times over, serving his community well. He was a farmer. A man who worked with his hands and heart.
No one knew when we sat down to write those cards that he would one day slip away, one memory at a time.
[bctt tweet=”We aren’t promised a thousand tomorrows, but we often live as we do. How to love those in front of us right now. https://wp.me/p4jbdw-4Db #livingfreetogether” username=”suzanneeller”]
Hearing those words brought him back for a moment. The normally loud crowd, comprised of his sons, daughters-in-law, their kids, and their kiddos, were totally silent after Richard read the few words from his dad. Every eye was wet with tears.
It made me wonder.
One year from now, would I wish I had a postcard from someone in that room?
Five years from now, would I give anything to hear them crack a joke, tell that story that I’ve heard a hundred times?
Ten years from now, would the postcards — just a handful of words when they were written — become heirlooms?
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1 (ESV)
I love every person that was in that room, but do I treat them as if they have a thousand tomorrows?
I have to admit I do. I may let an argument fester for more than a night. I may let that story they tell for the 10th time get on my last nerve. I may treat everyone else with care, and take them for granted.
That’s pretty natural, and I’m not saying we should treasure every single moment or hold up every day as a monument. But I do think that we could avoid a lot of regrets if we held our days with loved ones just a little more sacred.
Gave a little more grace.
Laughed a little more often.
Forgave a lot quicker.
Worked through those hard issues with a little more wisdom.
Say those sweet words rather than withhold them.
If I could sit across from my ornery father-in-law, the man we knew so well before Alzheimers, I’d tell him thank you for the lesson, the one he didn’t know he was teaching the day he wrote the post card.
It made me want to notice every person in that room, and thank God for them. A group of imperfect, often noisy, sometimes ornery, caring, good people I get to call family.
Who is sitting across from you right now?
Are you living as if you have a thousand tomorrows with them?
I hope you have a thousand days and more. Yet what if, one day, you could look back and see that you lived each day as if it were a gift? You worked through the hard stuff. You noticed the good. You forgave when it was needed, and you didn’t fail to tell them that you loved them.
These are our postcards. We give the best of ourselves each day. And ask for forgiveness when we fall short. What a beautiful, beautiful way to live.
Lord, help each of us to treasure today. Help us to live each day as if it is a gift, for it is. Help us to live fully in this day with those right in front of us. In Jesus’ name.
Q: How would it change your relationships if you treasured today with that loved one?
Q: What would you do differently?
Maybe you struggle to love because there’s hurt standing in the way. The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness is a gentle resource to help you uncover what that looks like.
The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places is another helpful resource to help you work through those hurting places with family.
WOW! Beautiful and touching reminder how important moments are with family. Loved this and am sharing ❤️
Thank you for this BEAUTIFUL reminder Suzie. Love you and your family!
Beautiful! Thank you for the reminder, Suzie.
Thank you for this teaching. I will continue to try to reach out to the many broken places in my life my husband leaving me in the midst of cancer , the strife set in all our relatives. The pain of daily trying is very difficult but my God has been faithful in his teachings and today he reminded me that he’s my burden bearer. Yesterday I felt exhausted from forgiving and the pain of reaching out and loving despite the outcome and he reminded me today that he will give me peace and that he is my burden bearer and you’ve added to treasure today and to live it fully. I would love to get the mended heart book but cant afford it . Maybe later. I love your sharing.
I just love you,Suzie. Know that today and know that tomorrow. You are loved ♥️
Rejoicing to God for you and your beautiful spirit and wisdom.
Thank you, Angie.
Beautiful – thank you Suzie 😘❤️
Touching. Powerful. I wondered if I might use this in our school’s paper which is freely accessible at http://www.gbs.edu/revivalist? I would give proper attribution. Let me know. Blessings!
Of course, Ken.
Oh how I LOVE this. And you! Thank you Suzie❤️
Thank you Suzie for this eye opener!
May God help us to love each other the way we are supposed to.
What a beautiful message. It made me think of all of the people I love that have gone on. I am fortunate enough to have a few notes and letters. I love the idea of writing a card for a child on their birthday…Powerful, I am going to really try to appreciate my family and friends.
Wise and encouraging post, Suzie
I do give thanks each day. My husband of 41 years is heading into the final stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I thank God for each day we have and hope I can be as gracious when he bu goes home. Dont know what I would do without God in the middle of thi valley
Lord, thank you for Elaine and for her love and support for her husband. Bless your sweet daughter. Amen.
Oh sis, we’ve been there so I wish I was close. I’d give you a huge hug and pray with you. Lord, walk with Elaine through this hard, hard place. Show her your grace, mercy, and overwhelming love. In Jesus’ name.
I need to learn to love on my kids and hubby more. Life gets cray with 4 kids plus 2 extra kid’s I keep. Find myself just going through the motions of life: laundry, feeding kids, putting baby down for nap, etc. I want to enjoy my kids more. Jesus, show me how…. 💜🕆
Oh my friend, this is the cry of my heart as well. 💖
I lost my sister in 1998, my oupa shortly after, my little baby in 2001, my first husband in 2002, my dad in 2009, my mom in 2013 and my second husband in 2015. So yess i do what its like and i treasure everything. It is now my son and I, he’s 19 and my brother. My heart aches because my brother and I have a very fragile relationship, he has stolen so much from my son and I, he said I was worthless trash, that I didn’t deserve as much as he did in the estate, I didn’t fight with him, I gave up really. He continues to be this narcistic person, he lies, he now borrows money from me (while lying) and its incredibly hurtful. I have to forgive everyday, I have to let it go every time I speak to him….and more than anything it hurts. So to protect myself and my sanity, I don’t have too much to do with him and it sadens me.