Postcards to Heaven

June 12, 2013

budge-grandpa1When you died, Emilia drew you a picture. It was your ‘death house’ she said; it was where you lived now. It had all your favorite things, as she understood them: cats and friendly sharks and motorcycles and flowers and heart-clouds. It was, she told me, your happy place.

Grandpa should know that we know that he’s happy, she said. We should mail this to him.

I don’t think that there’s mail in heaven, sweetie.

That’s okay, Mommy. Tanner can take it to him when he goes there.

Ah. Ah, no. Of course, no. But she had a point. I’d written a letter to Grandma when she died. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it to her, so I gave it to you and asked you to deliver it, somehow. You didn’t, of course; I know this because I found it in your effects after you died. Undelivered mail to the dead. It was okay, of course, that you never did get it to her. I understood. But I also saw an opportunity, informed by Emilia’s insight that the dead really should get their mail.

So I took that letter, and Emilia’s picture, and I got them copied. Then I wrote you a letter. I love you; I miss you, it said. I’ll keep trying to change the world for you. You always wanted me to change the world, and I will.

And then I gave that small packet of letters and artwork to the funeral director, and I asked him to put them in the casket with your remains before they cremated you. And so, I expect, he did, and so I told Emilia that I sent you her picture of your death house. I hope that you got it. I tell myself that you did.

You might not get this one. That’s okay. I wanted to write it anyway.

It was good to write it anyway. Just as it was good for me to write those other letters, and for Emilia to write (draw) hers. They kept us connected. And that, really, is everything.

Love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.


(You can read the letter here. It’s okay to read it; it’s pretty personal, but look, someone should read it. You could also write your own – and if you don’t need to mail it to heaven, that will be all the easier. Mine’s kind of about how my dad taught me to lean in. It’s also about faith and bravery, and gratitude. These things are not unrelated.)

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    { 22 comments… read them below or add one }

    Shannon Bradley-Colleary June 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    It’s amazing how kids so easily have faith. How sending a letter to their deceased loved one can bring connection and peace. Very wise indeed.


    Sheila@Chinaberry June 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you so much for bringing up this tough issue. I myself love the idea of writing a letter or drawing a picture for a special person who has died, and think it’s especially helpful for children. I wish I’d thought to suggest this to my kids when their grandpas died but it probably has to come from the child. I appreciate you sharing this.


    Birdy& Bambi June 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    We love the picture!

    And we wish you a beautiful weekend as well:

    Birdy& Bambi


    Andrea July 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I just love kids – they see everything so simply. Thank you for sharing this with us!


    Olga July 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! You know, I will never stop being surprised of how children are sincere and innocent. I love that they interpret the world another way adults do, and children feel free to express their attitude. And sometimes I stop and think that children have much to teach us, so wise and clever adults, about. We, adults, just have to be open to children and accept the things they want to give us. And maybe the world will be better then. Thanks again for this! :-)


    Tamara Rabil July 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    What a special treat you’ve given us with this! Our children are, indeed, more connected with us and our loved ones in the deepest way possible. I continue to be amazed at their keen insight into the grind of our daily lives, their wild imagination flying far above this world, and their acute ability to balance these two things.

    That is, when they’re not wild and out of control…

    Enjoyed reading, thanks!


    Emily Fenicle August 16, 2013 at 9:35 am

    The letter to your dad was absolutely beautiful. Wow. I believe our children have such an innocence that it rubs off on us. They make us remember things about life and family that we’ve set aside or forgotten. We under-estimate their faith. Thank you for sharing.


    Top Preschools Peachtree Corners Georgia August 27, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Lovely postcards. Here in our school I try my best to nurture my student’s artistic skills.


    Meeshie August 31, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    I love the idea. I was just doing this from the exact opposite way myself today. Losing a parent.. gods.. no matter how old you are it just never gets easier, I suppose. You can find my letter on my site today if you want to trade personal for personal and know that none of us are ever really alone.


    kelli September 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Really love the drawing. Enjoy reading the words from you. Will push my self again here.


    Dianne Holly October 8, 2013 at 5:47 am

    I never thought of this idea before, I should have written a farewell letter to my dad before he went into cremation. Thank you for sharing this idea. It’s a very touching post.


    Marie November 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I want to be as great a parent to my child as your Father was to you.


    Jake Ellen December 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Kid’s are so precious. That drawing is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

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    nattymagoo January 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Awe…. Love it. Kids have the most beautiful and pure hearts! When my grandmother passed away, my daughter, who was four at the time, was worried her great-grandmother would get cold in her coffin so she drew a picture of a quilt and put it in her coffin at the funeral. It’s a moment I will carry in my heart for all time. <3


    Michelle R Glee January 23, 2014 at 5:26 am

    That right there is what it is all about :)


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    This excellent website truly has aall thhe info I wanted concerniing this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    Freddie March 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    It is in reality a niche and helpful piece of info.

    Iam glad that you just shared this helpful info with
    us. Please stay us inrormed like this. Thanks for sharing.


    Jodie March 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Awww this is such a touching thing to do!


    Mary March 22, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Kids really have a beautiful heart, this is amazing!


    HappinessSavouredHot March 24, 2014 at 8:50 am

    That is beautiful.

    I was 24 when my dad passed away, but I still felt the need to write him a letter. I rolled it, put a ribbon around it, and deposited it with him. :-)


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