the “in case” letter

A few years ago I wrote a letter to Nathaniel and Rachael apologizing for all the failures they suffered through Peyton’s cancer treatment.

It was an important letter because I wanted the kids to know that I was aware of how I’d let them down. But it didn’t mean I loved them any less.

So, I realized that if something ever happened to me I wanted the kids to have something to remember me by.

I thought about writing something private, but I also know the kids might never find it.

Dear Kids,

If you’re reading this I’ve run away with the circus and left to make my fortune in monkeys.



If your reading this, it’s because something happened and I’m not able to explain this to you in person.

First, I just want you to know that YOU three were the best things I ever did in my life. Getting to be your mom was the experience beyond all others. I don’t think it’s possible for me to put in words.

Nathaniel, I hope as you become the man you are showing the signs of growing into that you will remember one of the best lines Stan Lee ever wrote: WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. You have the most incredible capability for laughter but remember you also have the chance to have a strong heart.  You will have a lot of pain, but you have this once to be the guiding force in your sisters’ lives, don’t waste it. It’s ok to cry.  Fall in love.  Remember that “Princess Bride” is one of the best movies ever. Call your dad instead of driving drunk.  Know I love you.

Rachael, you choose to think of yourself as the “middle child” but remember that I chose to think of you differently: “the infectious laugh” or “the one most like me” or “the cook”. It’s such a struggle for you to get past the idea that anyone might forget you when it’s IMPOSSIBLE. You really need to hold on to the fact that you are unique and amazing….something you might not appreciate now when you want to be just  like everyone else.  But you will.  One day.  Know that I appreciate you and who you are NOW.  And I love you.

Peyton, you my sweetie, need to keep being the kind of person who thinks the answer to universe is “pie”.  Talk about yourself in third person.  Dress in green every day.  Think your older brother and sister herd unicorn, know your daddy is there to protect you and believe in your ability to do ANYTHING.  Clean up your messes.  Put things back where you find them.  Keep giving the best hugs in the world.  I love you.

 There’s a lot of things to tell you that I didn’t.  I’ll leave that to your dad.  Or Gilmore Girl reruns.

As much as I tell you, I can’t say it enough: YOU are family.

No one will ever know you the way these people do.

No one will ever love you the way these people do.

Don’t be an asshole. I’ll find a way to haunt you for eternity if you do.



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13 Responses to the “in case” letter

  1. Rachel October 26, 2011 at 1:02 PM #

    A good idea. And a blessing to your children, if they should need it.

    Some people might call it morbid, but I like the idea that if something were to happen to me that my husband would know that I thought ahead. I might have to write a note tonight. Of course, mine will be mostly “these are the people we owe money to” paragraphs, but whatever. The thought is there.

    Rachel´s last post…My Husband, The Infertility Specialist

  2. Mary October 20, 2011 at 1:25 PM #

    These are very touching words. The letter is lovely except for the first paragraph which is scary. My mother worked overseas when I was young and she would send me a letter with loving and words. I remember how it made me so happy.

    Mary´s last post…how to flirt with a girl

  3. BalancingMama (Julie) October 18, 2011 at 11:40 PM #

    This letter is perfect in every way. Love it!

    Lucky kids. What an awesome mama.

    BalancingMama (Julie)´s last post…If you really knew me…

  4. Rita Arens October 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM #


    Rita Arens´s last post…Long Writing Projects: You Can Do It

  5. Diane Brogan October 17, 2011 at 8:56 AM #

    You are my superwoman! Thank you for sharing your life. You are so beautiful :) Thank you.

    Diane Brogan´s last post…Cold Vengeance – A Book Review

  6. Susie October 17, 2011 at 12:49 AM #

    So many adjectives I’m striving to find to apply to this letter, Anissa. It’s sweet, endearing, funny, bittersweet, intense… The list could be endless. Just when I was about to get all teary-eyed, I read the last two sentences (“Don’t be an asshole. I’ll find away to haunt you for eternity if you do.”), and laughed out loud.

    But then when I read your “apology letter” to your 2 kids, I nearly did lose it. I very well could have written a letter like that to my 2 kids after their dad’s near-five year cancer battle. I’ve put some of it into words in person, but never thought of putting it down on paper. Your example has given me the courage that one day, I may do just that.

    I’m so happy that Peyton made it. I wish my husband had. No matter how much I wish it was different, it’s not.

    Now go get tomorrow, Anissa (like you always do)…

  7. Suebob October 17, 2011 at 12:42 AM #

    I’m proud to know you, even just a little bit.

  8. Kristin October 17, 2011 at 12:18 AM #

    Oh Anissa, you made me cry. That letter is so beautiful and funny and poignant.

    Kristin´s last post…A Breath of Fresh Air

  9. Teri October 16, 2011 at 11:45 PM #

    I love this…funny and heartbreaking…and inspires me to write my own for my kid. Thank you for sharing!

    Teri´s last post…How I spent my weekend

  10. MommyBreakdown October 16, 2011 at 11:44 PM #

    Wow…I LOVE your letter. A mother’s love is insane. My mom died when I was 25 and I later found a few letters she wrote to us when we were young. I love them more than any other “thing” on earth. So special.

    MommyBreakdown´s last post…A Sling Bookshelf Holds Zillions of Books!

  11. Diane October 16, 2011 at 11:35 PM #

    Aw, you are the best mom any kids could ask for. I agree with Miss Britt too.

  12. Susan in the Boonies October 16, 2011 at 10:44 PM #

    I like this VERY much, Anissa. It’s a good letter. It will be a blessing to your children, if God forbid, they ever need to read it.

    Susan in the Boonies´s last post…I love Autumn …

  13. Miss Britt October 16, 2011 at 10:39 PM #

    Why do you want to make me cry?

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