“I never got to say goodbye…”
Those few words are a heart breaking statement that has been made by so many. Whether it be an unexpected death, the death of someone whose distance was too far, an expected loss when you just couldn’t find the words, we all know the pain of losing someone we were never able to say goodbye to. Death is hard no matter what, but when we lack the closure of exchanged words with our loved one, closure can seem even further away.I have a few stories I could tell you about when I didn’t get to say goodbye, but today, I want to share with you about my friend Ray Ray.
Ray was a family friend and a brother in arms to my husband. I’ve met many of the men my husband served with and while I consider each of them heroes, if you were to ask me who was who, it would be hard for me to tell you. Ray was different.
I bet your sitting up in Heaven right now, standing out among the rest of the angels with a brand new Seahawks jersey, hanging out with the brothers who went before you. You’ve probably met Shane by now, I never got to meet him, but I know the two of you will become quick friends. You both share a common bond in love and support for my husband. I’ll never forget that night I was sleeping and I woke up to hear him on the phone with you, I was so mad because I was sure the person he missed was some girl. Such an unbreakable bond between soldiers who became brothers through war. A brother to my husband, though I never told you, you were family to me as well. There was never an event or holiday celebrated that I didn’t make sure he had invited you. I always enjoyed having you around, even if you did threaten to set fire to my Steelers blanket every time you come over. You were great with our kids, especially the oldest, I know he misses you a lot. And, you were a great dad to your kids. So many times I asked what you were up to and it seemed like you were always at one of your sons games, no matter how far you had to travel. When you, C and the kids went to Monster Trucks last year, your little boy was so sweet to my baby boy, even though he is older than him. The pictures were so sweet and the way your boy took care of mine shows what a great dad you were. I know you probably never planned on being a grandpa so young, but when your daughter told you she was pregnant, you kept on loving her and welcomed that granddaughter with open arms. I am so happy you get to meet her before you left us. Full of jokes, you were always keeping us entertained, but your eyes told a different story, they showed me your heart. I have always believed that eyes are the windows to ones soul, any one can fake a smile, but eyes, they don’t lie. I saw a sadness in your eyes, much like the one I have seen in the eyes of so many veterans, but, you were more than your sadness to. From just the briefest of conversations with you, I saw the man you were striving to be, a man I think you always were, a man that got lost along the way and it broke my heart. I regret the times you reached out to me and I didn’t know how to respond, I had the words, but I suppose I was afraid. It’s not often one of C’s friends ever spoke to me when we weren’t together and it took me by surprise, even though I know he wanted us to be able to talk, I couldn’t get past the fear of building a relationship with a man who wasn’t my husband. I’m sorry for that, I know you are up in Heaven, and maybe God will give you this letter. I hope you know how proud I am of you, for making the choice to get help, for being so strong and reaching three months! I know that if you were still here with us, we’d be celebrating a year in September. It brings me peace knowing that your faith was so strong in your final days. As I finish this letter, a smile crosses my face, as I see you up there in Heaven. You’ve made a comfy couch out of clouds, the perfect spot to watch your son play ball, your daughter become an adult and your granddaughter grow up. And from now on, you’ll have all the chicken parm you could ever want and the best view ever of the Seahawks game!!
Writing this has inspired me to ask for your “Letter to Heaven” I would love to gather several of these letters and turn them into a book, whose proceeds would be donated to families like Ray’s who cannot afford the cost of their loved ones funeral. Whether it’s a letter to family, a friend, an unborn child, I want to hear your story and with your permission, I want to share your story, not only to help others financially, but to help others find that closure which they might not find otherwise. If you could leave your “Letter to Heaven” in the comments, or send it to my email at, firstname.lastname@example.org I would very much appreciate it.
Also, I would like to share with you the GoFundMe page my family and I have started for Ray’s family. You can read more about Ray and the situation with his family in the link below. Any donations, shares and prayers would be so greatly appreciated.