Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dead Letter Department

There are some days when I wonder if what I am writing will ever matter to anyone other than me. Some days, hail from the grey sky days, I wonder if the written word matters at all. And then I am reminded...
I wanted to share this story with you. It is not my story and I did not write it. Sadly, the author is unknown to me. But the story is worth retelling because it says to me that words matter, especially if they only matter to one or two people.


A Writer in the 'Dead Letter' department of the Postal Service.

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my
4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you
in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as
my dog even though she got sick.I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith
and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.
Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays
in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our
bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I
am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have
something to remember Abbey by.
Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you
write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I
picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I'm easy to find, I am wherever there is love.


What about you? What reminds you that words matter?


  1. I've read that before and thought it was awesome!!
    I don't know what reminds me that words matter, but I'm aware of it and try to speak gently to my kids.

  2. What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing that, Tabitha! Our word do matter. We must be careful and responsible with our words. Sometimes, words can hurt, so I'm always praying and hoping that I use my words to encourage, inspire, entertain or at the very least tell some truth. Thanks for this post!

  3. Ok. I officially cried. And Tabitha, your words already matter. Truly.

  4. I love this, especially the last lines. Words matter, they have power. True writers feel this way I'm sure, at some point, whether if anybody cares or ever will. I've come to accept myself as a writer first and foremost even if no one ever reads my scribblings. I'm sure the classic scribes have felt this too and some of them were not recognized until after death. The most important thing is, is to love what you do regardless. Does the drive to write overpower response from peers? As artists we want to share and converge with all who will listen but you have to love your art regardless of the outcome. Read The Alchemist if you haven't already.

  5. Tab, that's beautiful! Thank you for sharing it! And I love the picture too!

  6. Ah, that's a great story. Can you imagine? Thank you for passing it on.

  7. Aww. I have to make sure to fulfill someone's letter to Santa this year...

  8. I'd never seen this before. It's lovely and so true. Our words do matter. And you have such a gift with yours, Tab. Just the little I've read of your memoir moved me so much. Chin up!

  9. Posts like this are a reminder. Any words expressed with love and light matter. Yours certainly do to me.

  10. I think words matter because they last forever. Memories and photos fade, but the written word can last more than a lifetime.

  11. Aww, that is absolutely beautiful and so, so true. God IS wherever there is love. :) He always manages to get in through the smallest chinks.

    Oh, your beautifully-woven words mean galaxies to many, I am sure of it. Your blog is such an inspiration, I just adore it and you are just such a role model for aspiring writers like myself.

    much love,

  12. This story gave me chills! Thank you very much for sharing it. I am reminded that words matter every time I read a beautiful piece of writing or a story that makes me laugh or cry. How powerful words really are to make you feel different emotions!

  13. That's just not right. I like to write hard-edged literary fiction, but then you post this little story and remind me that at heart, I'm sometimes little more than a rank sentimentalist. Curses! I need to go smoke and drink something now. Right after I blink away this piece of dust in my eye...

  14. That's so sweet. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Tabitha, your words always matter. You are an excellent writer and you have a beautiful way with your words, always touching my heart. Thanks for sharing this story and the pic is adorable. It's heart warming to know that there is a God that listens. And He listens to you!

  16. Sweet.

    Didn't they make a movie about Dear God letters that are sent to the post office? You've piqued my curiosity, I'm off to look it up.

    My words? I have the same doubts you do, on a daily basis.

  17. I love that story! So beautiful.

    I hope my words matter. I try to think of those whose hearts I've touched when I get discouraged. I know that it's not me and that any ability I do have is solely God's. I'm just thankful that he chooses to use me.

  18. I've read that story before. It made me cry then and it made me get all choked up now. What a beautiful, inspiring story!

    Your words matter, Tab. Your posts always touch some deep part of my soul. I can't wait to read your book.

  19. I'm crying over here. I really, really hope this story is true. That is just beautiful.

  20. thank you to everyone who commented. I am glad that I am not the only one who cried when they read this for the first time. I was also really humbled by the comments some of you made about my writing. Thank you. The encouragement is appreciated. :)

  21. Tabitha Bird...this story has so much relevance, the same quality as Christ touching the water!

    You turn me from water into wine!

  22. Such a cute picture. I think words have incredible weight. There are sentences that people have written here that continue to bang about my head like noisy gongs. They struck so deep and nailed me with their weight. Now they are part of me, labels to feelings I could not name and I am so grateful.

  23. Everytime I read that story, it makes me cry. So beautiful.

    I wrestle with the same concerns, wondering if what I write will ever really matter.

    But if we've been given a gift, we must use it. We must use it if none but our eyes and God's ever read it. Something tells me, though, that if we do have a deep desire, a longing that will not go away, and we heed that longing, our words will find their way into the hearts of those who need them.

    Happy Thursday (love the picture of the puppy!)