Best Of live

A Long Overdue Letter

Dear Liz,

I received an unexpected letter in the mail last week from a childhood friend.
A friend I hadn’t talked to in nearly 15 years.

Reading Amanda’s words immediately took me back to 7th grade…
The night of a middle school dance…
When Amanda was helping me do my hair and makeup,
because Amanda was always good at girly things like that (and I certainly wasn’t).
We were listening to Wonderwall, drinking root beer,
and I was looking through her endless stack of Seventeen magazines while she worked to flip out my hair just right.

There were many other nights just like this one…with Amanda.
Nights where we stayed up late talking on her trampoline in the backyard.
We talked mostly about boys, or a math test, and then again about boys.
It was during our time together that we were allowed to be kids. Just kids.
We left behind whatever stresses or messiness there may have been going on within the walls of our own homes, and we giggled together.
Carefree. Innocent. The way kids should be.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized just how much my friendship with Amanda impacted me growing up…Just how much I needed her at the particular time in my life.
And ultimately, how much she needed me.

So here’s what I’m getting at…
Amanda’s unexpected letter in the mail last week…
well, it touched my heart to the very core.
And it reminded me just how long overdue my letter to you is.

I want need you to know that you changed my life.
For the better.
In literally every possible way.
And I never got the chance to tell you that.

I need to be honest.
I don’t think about you as much as I used to.
Mostly because it’s too hard.
Because I miss you.
Because I wonder how different things might be if you were still here.
Because I’m afraid of the place my mind goes when I think about the day I found out you were gone.

So I don’t let my mind go there.
For a while, I would even pretend you were still here.
Because the hardest part about losing you was fully realizing the void that would take place in this world without you.

You were destined for greatness,
on a path to change the lives of so many.
And when you died, I was angry.
Angry at a God I didn’t believe existed at the time.
Angry that He would take you away,
when you still had so many lives to touch.

But I was naive.
And it’s amazing how clearly I see that now.

My anger and pain were not the legacy you would have wanted, the legacy you deserved.
And it took me a few years to learn that (with your help of course).

After you left, I still talked to you. A lot.
I don’t think I’ve ever really told that to anyone before,
afraid that others would think it sounded crazy.
Mostly I would vent.
About my worries,
my stresses in school,
my confusion,
my anger,
my guilt.

I apologized for letting us drift apart after we left for college. I knew that it was my fault.
I told you how difficult your death had been on everyone.
I complained about hard decisions I needed to make.
I asked your opinion about the crossroads I was facing in life.
And then I begged you to tell me if there was more to life than this.
I begged you to tell me that there was a reason you had been taken.
I pleaded for answers.

This went on for months.
My venting.
And begging.

And the deafening silence that followed my pleas…eventually broke me down.
Until I was only a shell of my former self, walking around in fear that I may lose anyone I gave my heart to.

I shut everyone out.
Severed ties with so many of the people who reminded me of my life with you.
And it was just when I felt I had nothing left to lose, that you answered my pleas.
Or as I now know, it was then that you answered my prayers.

I remember the day it happened.
The day I snapped out of it.
The day I stopped being angry.
The day I discovered faith.

I don’t really have words to describe the moment it happened.
Not words I want to share,
because that moment was sacred
and that moment was all mine.

It’s not like the heavens opened and you began speaking to me.
There were tears. And there were feelings of defeat. And there was sadness.
And then, suddenly…in my moment of complete vulnerability, there was peace.
Quiet, humbling, peace.

My heart was softened and my mind was opened.
Suddenly it was so clear to me.
Even though you had left this earth,
I knew in that moment,
that you would continue changing lives.

Your unfinished business has inspired all those who were a part of your life to see to it that a difference is made. We can’t let your work remain undone. You have inspired us. To live the life you would have lived. To see the wonders and hold the hands of the lives you would have touched. To pass along the kindness you always showed.

And you know the coolest part?

That love,
that life changing,
difference making,
good doing example you left for each and every one of us…
It’s exponential!

Thank you for making me want to be better.
Thank you for helping me find faith, and purpose.
And thank you for the people I know you sent into my life to heal my heart after you left.
Your memory and your sweet spirit will continue to be an example and a motivation in my life.
The influence you continue to have over the lives of those who love you…
THAT is your legacy.

I love you.

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  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you for this. It’s amazing the power a letter can have. Again, I am so sorry it was so long overdue. I have certainly learned now to ‘Never postpone a prompting’! Thank you for the example you have been to me.


  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    This made me cry.

    Why do you do that, Ashley?
    Why do you have to write about real things that make me feel so much less lonely??

    It’s amazing. :]

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    friends rule. i may or may not be crying at work right now…

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    i feel like i need to comment, although i don’t have any words.

    this is inspiring. thank you.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing that. I lost a friend like Liz too, I don’t know that I ever told you that. I didn’t realize just how similar our situations were until I read this, the pain the fear of letting people get close to you because you don’t know if you would survive losing someone else, I have been there! Still am in some ways if I am being completely honest. This was beautifully written Ash, you have an amazing talent of putting emotion into words.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    You cease to amaze me, Ashley! You have so many talents and I think that writing is right up there towards the top of your list, if not on the top!! You have a way of putting words to emotions that no other I know can do as well as you do! Love ya & miss you & ur boys!!!! Kids in school somehow makes me busier :-/

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Really beautiful Ash. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write. Thanks for doing it.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    My best friend has struggled with health issue her whole life and as I read your letter I bawled… feeling fear that someday I will write your exact words. SO powerful.. Thanks for sharing your whole heart always with those of us out here in cyber-land that have the same heart, but different names!

  • Reply
    Wendy Orme
    October 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    You sure have a way of putting into words a lot of the same things I’m thinking but don’t know how to express. Recently, a good friend of mine died in a freak motorcycle accident while on a second honeymoon in Hawaii. Her husband and 4 kids are understandably inconsolable. My friend was the Primary President in our ward. This past Sunday was the Primary Sacrament Meeting program and one of the songs the kids sang was dedicated to her. We could feel her with us so strongly! It’s moments like that that help to make the loss bearable. I’m sorry about your friend, Liz. Even though it’s been a few years since her death, you never really get over missing the people you love.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    We are so lucky to have friends like this touch our lives and make us a better person. At the time of their death it’s so hard to understand why they were only given the short years they were, but it has been almost 12 years since I lost my best friend. But over the years I have come to understand that she did so much in those 19 years to make people smile and shine a little brighter than I have yet to do in my 32. I wonder what life would be like now if she was still here and if our kids would be the best of friends too. I have never thought to write her a letter, but might be about time to put some of the memories to paper. Thank you for this post!

  • Reply
    McKenzie Guymon
    October 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Ashley you are amazing. Every story of yours hits me to the core.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be mailed those letters.

    I think grief is such a funny thing how it comes back in waves. I love knowing that there is something after this life and that God loves us so much, but it still happens. Also, her legacy is really beautiful.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    very eye opening 🙂

  • Reply
    Anna @ IHOD
    November 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Beautifully written. Its so clear she had a lasting and important role in your life. Hugs to you friend!

  • Reply
    November 7, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I too had a dear friend more like a little brother whom I shared almost every single day of my childhood with…we drifted apart after he got married and I moved away…then reconnected about 14 years later via facebook (lol imagine that!) Long story short, after we reconnected and went down memory lane )almost every day for 6 months or so via internet or phone calls), a little over 1 year past this date, he took his life. I cannot till now talk about him, or think about him without feeling an empty void has been ripped away from me once again. I sit with tears running down my face as I type this. There are so many long overdue things I too need to get through, maybe one day I can too be able to touch others of my memories of him with others as you have!

  • Reply
    Kristen Duke
    November 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Wow, just checked out the link of her passing, how heartbreaking! What a sweet letter to her;)

  • Reply
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    March 22, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you for this. It’s amazing the power a letter can have.

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