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A Letter from the Heavenly Angels

These words provided comfort after the greatest loss imaginable—for two mothers.

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Before the party started I hoped to steal upstairs to the trunk where I kept our son Rod’s favorite things. I spent a lot of time with that trunk since Rod’s death in a car accident in his sophomore year in high school. That’s where I went when I missed him so much I couldn’t bear it. Like now.

My husband, Rodney, and I had decided to throw a graduation party for Rod’s classmates. They’d taken his death hard too. In the months after the accident the kids wrote dozens of letters telling us how much our son had meant to them, how they’d never forget him, how they were praying for us. I saved every one and packed all of them away in a box for safekeeping.

Throughout their junior and senior years, the kids dropped by the house just to say hi or talk about Rod. Sometimes I’d almost forget that he wasn’t right out front, shooting hoops in the driveway.

The soda was on ice, the chips and dip were out. Rodney was firing up the grill. “I’ll be down in a few minutes,” I called to him. I hurried upstairs to the trunk, which I’d found in an antiques store about six months after Rod’s death.

I went through Rod’s treasured possessions one by one, savoring each memory as I packed them neatly inside. His freshman yearbook, his Latin Club scrapbook, his Star Wars action figures. Each time I went through the trunk, I repacked it just as carefully, laying the University of Alabama football quilt I’d had made for him on top before closing the lid.

Our first guests would arrive any minute. I opened up the trunk and frowned. The quilt was there as usual, but there was a letter on top of it, one we received after Rod’s death. It wasn’t like me to leave a stray one out. Those letters were too precious to me. I always kept them bundled together in a separate box up in my closet. And nobody went into the trunk but me.

I checked the signature on the letter. Rod’s friend, Hugh Biggs. I was disappointed when Hugh told me previous plans would keep him from making our party. The doorbell rang downstairs. I smoothed the quilt and closed the trunk, then tucked the letter into my pocket. I’d put it back in its proper place as soon as I had a chance.

The kids were full of talk about their class rings, college plans and career dreams. They looked so happy. I put out the desserts and slipped into the bathroom, hoping no one had noticed my teary eyes. God, help me to remember that Rod is eternally happy with you.

I leaned against the closed door and pulled Hugh’s letter out of my pocket. “Why all these tears?” he wrote. “We are crying because we miss Rod, but Rod is happier than he ever was on earth, because he is with God. There are no tears in heaven.” I’d forgotten what Hugh had written. Or perhaps I wasn’t ready to take it in two years ago. But tonight I took his words to heart.

Thank you, God. This misplaced letter was a blessing today.

The next morning I put the letter by the phone to remind myself to call Hugh and tell him how much his words had meant to me, two years later—if under somewhat mysterious circumstances. I was finishing up the dishes when the phone rang. It was my neighbor. “Did you hear about Hugh Biggs?” She sounded upset. I picked up the letter. “What?” I asked quickly, a prayer for Hugh already on my lips.

“He was killed in a car accident.”

All I could think of was Betty, Hugh’s mother. I knew her pain. My pain. A pain no words could ease. Still I felt like I needed to go to her.

I slipped Hugh’s letter into my purse. An angel put this letter out to ease my pain. Please, God, help me find the words to ease Betty’s pain.

Her husband, Clyde, met me at the door. “I’m so sorry,” I said. Clyde nodded sadly, his shoulders slumped. Looking at him brought back those awful days right after Rod’s death, when it didn’t seem like anything would ever be all right again. No kind words helped me then. How could I expect my own words to mean anything to Betty now? Maybe I should have waited to come.

“How is Betty?” I asked.

Clyde rubbed his face. “I don’t know what to do.” He hesitated, like he wasn’t sure if he should go on. I nodded encouragement. “We went to the funeral home,” he said. “Hugh was crying.” Clyde shook his head. “The mortician said it was normal, just the tear ducts emptying, but it looked so real. Betty feels like Hugh is crying somewhere, and she can’t comfort him.”

Clyde ran his hands through his hair. “How can I help her?”

The letter in my purse! There are no tears in heaven. Hugh had written those words himself. “Let me talk to her,” I said.

Betty was in the bedroom, lying on her side. “Pat,” she said weakly, her eyes red and swollen.

I sat next to her and put the letter into her hand. “Hugh wrote this, after Rod died. I was reminded of it yesterday when I needed its soothing message. Today, I believe, these words are meant especially for you.”

Betty read the letter. It was a long time before she could speak. “Do you really believe Hugh is happy, like Rod? That he isn’t crying?”

“An angel put this letter in our hands,” I said. “God must have wanted us to know it’s the truth.”

I put my arms around Betty. We would never really stop hurting over the loss of our boys. But God had found a way to ease our pain today. Tomorrow he would find another way. And then another. Until we were with our boys in heaven, and our tears were left behind for good.

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