Go to previous post:
Armistice Day.

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
“He was guarding God.”

Our Admirable Sponsors

November 11, 2003

Things that don’t change. Continuing our coverage of November 11.
Melissa, I have never been as blessed as the day I met you. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover and best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A lifetime’s worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That’s how long I will be with you. Please keep my babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone….Teach our babies to live life to the fullest, tell yourself to do the same.

I will always be there with you, Melissa. I will always want you, need you and love you, in my heart, my mind and my soul. Do me a favor, after you tuck the children in. Give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile.

(Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, 34, of Springfield, Mo., in a letter written to be delivered to his family if he died. Private Givens was killed in Iraq on May 1, 2003.)
If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have sometimes been!

But, 0 Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you, in the brightest day and in the darkest night…always, always. And when the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath, or the cool air your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

(Major Sullivan Ballou, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, July 14, 1861, in a letter to his wife. Sullivan Ballou fell a week later at the first battle of Bull Run.) [01:50 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Things that don't change.:

Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2003, 03:35 PM:

Jesus. That'll teach me to look at your blog during work hours. How do I explain the tears?

Mary ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2003, 04:33 PM:

Thanks Patrick. I cried.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 12:09 AM:

Orson Welles and John Houseman put on their "Voodoo Macbeth" in 1936 in Harlem, so there was at least one full cast's worth of classically trained african-american actors available.

Probably not a few more.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 12:11 AM:

Oh, lord, is this ever on the wrong thread. It was meant for the open thread on Making Light.

Teresa? Help?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 12:21 AM:

Hey, it all gets mixed up in your stomach anyway.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 12:23 AM:

Just re-post it into the intended thread. I'll leave it to Patrick to decide whether to delete this instantiation.

Susana Serras Pereira ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 08:06 AM:

Thank you. For this and all the other great stuff. I've been meaning to thank you (both of you) for a while.

Susana, having a belated private veteran's day as the eleventh is an entirely different sort of holiday here.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 11:04 AM:

Different holdiay indeed.
I had multiple people wish me a "Happy Veteran's Day" yesterday. My response was generally, "I'm not sure that's the proper salutation."

Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 04:03 PM:

Man. I've been haunted by these letters since I read them. It's amazing that this stupid war is claiming more lives every day.

andrew ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 08:22 PM:

I literally cannot fathom writing a letter to your wife or husband to be read upon your death. How can someone do that? But then, how can you not?

That hurts.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 04:44 PM:

I must confess, such a letter seems strange to me, yet (after much soul searching) I wrote one, and left it with a dear friend.

As you asked, how can you not, yet what can one put in it? Nothing one says can assuage the grief.... I think we write them for ourselves, for those last few moments when we know we are dying, far away, hoping the message will ease the sting of the uniforms at the door (and how would my better half, a Quaker, feel about the comforts given by the Catholic chaplain they will send?).

We strive to make, with that letter, our passing more of the quiet death we want, instead of the not so quiet one we fear.

Whistling in the dark is not done to scare the ghosts, but calm the living.

Terry K.

melissa Givens ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 08:31 PM:

My name is Melissa Givens my husband was PFC Jesse Givens. i found this site by searching his name. And wanted to say that this letter to us was one of the most wonderfull things I ever got in my life. when I read it i had just gotten home from haveing our baby.I had all kinds of feelings as I sat on my porch and cryied my heart out. then I thougt about it and with him writing this letter there is no doubt in my mind or my heart how much the three of us ment to my husband. He called the friday before he died and told me he had wrote it and not to open it. After he passed it didnt show up for 3 and a half weeks I was going crazy. I needed that letter and when it came it was the saddist but one of the most comforting days in my life. I knew his love and that he would always be with us. Melissa

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 08:47 PM:

Thanks for commenting, Melissa; I'm very glad you found comfort in your husband's letter. I hope your baby is healthy and your love for your husband can be shared with your children.

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 11:53 PM:

What Kris said, Melissa. I can only dimly imagine how overwhelming the grief must for you right now. I can't add anything meaningful, in the face of your loss, only offer my support and best wishes for yours and your baby's future.

I hope you will find, as I have with those I've loved who have died, that somehow he will still be with you, even beyond death.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 08:02 PM:

Melissa Givens, I can only imagine what you've been through. Thank you very much for posting here.