From The Letter Box. Used with permission of Beyond Words Publishing.

The Letter Box, a true story, begins with a tragedy. Mark Button, co-creator of the Koosh Ball, has just sold his successful toy business and, after years of trying to conceive, his wife Ronnie is expecting triplets. All their hopes are dashed in one tragic moment when Ronnie dies suddenly, along with the triplets-ironically on Mother's Day. In time, Mark meets Diane. Their friendship turns into love, and they marry and form their own family. Sensitized by the events in their lives, Mark and Diane set out an unusual plan to ensure that their own children will feel loved and encouraged throughout their lives-whether their parents are alive or not. Their goal: to write letters now to each of their children to be opened on significant milestones in the future. Many letters in The Letter Box celebrate happy beginnings-graduation, weddings, births, holidays-but Diane included a special letter for the end of life.

To Open Upon My Death

My dearest children,
As you can imagine, this is the most difficult letter for me to write. Right now, as I contemplate death, it is not fear of dying that causes me pain but rather the thought of leaving my family behind.

When I was younger, I was always so grateful for living, but I was also so curious about why we are here and where we were going after this part of our journey ends. I spent hours thinking about the meaning of life and, in particular, what was I doing here. Of course, I never had any answers to these age-old questions, so I would end my internal philosophy lesson with the feeling that there must be something more besides this existence on earth. Part of me could not wait to find out what that was.

I suppose I can dig deep down and still find that feeling, but something drastically changed in me after I married your dad and started our family.

For the first time I planted roots. I mean emotional roots. The kind of roots that attach you to another human being and are so strong that they stretch to the far corners of the earth.

I can remember being afraid to love your dad as much as I did. I thought love was like this mathematical equation. The amount that a heart loves is in direct proportion to the amount that a heart can feel pain. As I grew more deeply in love, I was acutely aware of how painful it would be to lose him.

And then you children came along. That bond is so different. It was solid from the second you were born. Life began to make more sense to me, and I could not imagine life without my family.

Every year, every day, every moment is a gift. I have been blessed with many wonderful memories that bring a smile to my face or tears of happiness to my eyes. I have also struggled and suffered, and I remember those times as well with a smile on my face, because in the end, so far, every struggle has helped form the person that I am.

As I think about my own death-and my own life-I keep coming back to that mathematical equation about love. The pleasure of knowing and giving love is what really matters on earth. And I feel content. I have felt love and I continue to feel love every moment of every day.

I may not be the richest, most beautiful, or healthiest person. Considering the size of this planet I may not know very many people intimately and deeply. And God knows I have not suffered or felt the deep pain that many others have in this lifetime. So, was my life worth it? Did I make a difference? Did I laugh and cry through the years? And most importantly, did I know love?

Yes, yes, yes. And I pray that in your lifetime, you, too, will experience all the pleasure and pain that life brings you with open arms. This way, you will also leave the earth with a full heart.

I can only imagine this to be a difficult time for you as well. Find strength in your faith. Let our fond memories comfort you now. We have had so much. You have given me so much. Now your outgoing spirit and your generous heart will fill you with the desire to go on to live a wonderful life and to share your gifts with others.

I will close with this, my dears. As you get older, I pray that your life will be filled with people and love. Make loving one another your priority, for as I have heard many times before, when that final day comes, you will not be concerned with how much money is in your bank account or how successful you were in business. You will only care about the people you love and the wonderful memories of times spent with them. So, please take the time to cultivate those memories and you will reap the harvest of life's sweetest fruit.

I have enjoyed each and every moment of this life with you. I can still remember the first moment I saw your face and held you in my arms. My memories are filled with your sweet smiles and your chunky tears and everything in between. I will remember you and everything about you.

Although I will miss you greatly, I believe that someday we will be together again. On that day I will look into those sweet eyes to thank you once again for bringing more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined.

So until that day, good-bye.

I love you,

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