Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Beauty of Hidden Treasure

The past months have been very intense on many levels.  One of the things that happened was the incredibly untimely death of a dear, treasured, much-loved friend, Stan.

Last month, Rick and I had just come home from a weekend away when the phone rang.  I was helping Zack with homework when Rick walked into the bedroom with a stricken look on his face and said, "We need to talk."  

That's never good.

And it wasn't.  Stan passed away from a chronic disease and only a few members of his family knew and then only a little before it happened.  It rocked our Air Force family of linguists.  Rocked it to the core, I dare say.  He was an icon, someone people knew about if they didn't know him personally.  Those who knew him personally were forever touched by him in some way -- by his amazing talents, how he always had people's backs and wasn't afraid to stand up for friends, by his dry sense of humor.  

I knew him not only from Korea but from reuniting for a time after I left the Air Force and started college.  The photo above is from my first trip to visit him after leaving Korea in 1991, so that places the photo from 1997.  (That smile!  Why does it make me cry now?)  

It was an amazing trip for a million reasons, but one was the intense conversations.  We kept up those intense conversations via email and letter, and I'm so lucky to have kept paper copies of many of them.  At the time, we were both pretty damaged souls, and I feel that during those visits, we helped heal a few hurts.  

When I left Korea, he and I had started to really bond.  It was bittersweet, my leaving the Air Force, but I knew I'd done my tour, and as much as my heart tugged at me to stay in and make it a career, I suppose my brain knew I still had a lot of things to do in life.  Stan believed the same thing for me.  

One night, before I left, he gave me a present.

Stan gave me a book from his own shelves, a book by the philosopher Nietzsche.  He had marked it all up, underlined and highlighted passages, written in the margins -- it was his favorite book, he said, and he was passing it on to me.  Those kinds of gifts are just intensely personal and amazing, and indicative of the type of person he was -- generous to a fault for those he cared about.

When I took the book off the shelf the day Stan died, a letter fell out.


I have opened and closed that book so many times.  Yet I had never found the letter he hid between the pages until the day he died.  A love letter, and it tore my heart up.  I had other such letters from him, but to have one show up, suddenly, hidden since 1991..... chills.  A message.  I needed it.  No one can tell me that wasn't divine intervention.

Sigh.  This post really stinks as a eulogy to him, but I've tried writing it a million times and this is what I can write.  The rest is in my heart.  I left out far more than I could have put in, but I've shared it all with his son and will be sending him copies of the letters and pictures I have.  And I hope his son doesn't mind me sharing the following photo, because it helps heal my heart to know that Stan's last years in particular were so joyful to him because of his grandson.  I've never heard him talk with such complete and total peace.  

I miss you, Stan.  You are loved.  Not were.  Are.  

(powered by pie)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup".


  1. What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend. And I have chills when you mentioned the letter falling out. I know you will have Stan in your heart always. Thanks for sharing him with us.

  2. I think this is a lovely tribute..

  3. I think as a eulogy it was eloquent and heartfelt! Those are the very best. I do believe that writing is part of who you are and you do it with amazing talent and you have a style that makes people want to read it. You have a way of getting right to what counts and bringing it to our attention in a way that draws us in and allows us to understand!!! I have said this many times but here it is are an amazing woman of multiple talents and you are very important and well Loved!!!

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss Lori. But he gave you a gift, a gift of true friendship and love. No one can take that away from you. Hugs!

  5. Beautiful. I'm sure Stan has one of those lopsided grins on his mug as he's reading this.

  6. Anonymous5:42 PM

    These unexpected messages are to be treasured, a sign that you are still loved even beyond the great veil.

  7. I am sorry for your loss, but thankful that you can pass on his love and messages to others in his family! It will take time, but the hurt will lesson - never go away - but lesson! ~KM

  8. Feeling sad for you and for all of those who loved him. You are a beautiful writer and your love for him and his being such an intelligent and warm thinker shine through your writing. Peace and gentleness coming toward you . . .

  9. This made me cry, Lori. So sweet and lovely. Thanks for sharing another sliver of you! I love these posts.

  10. I am touched by your heartfelt words. I am glad for you that you had such a special and dear friend. He will be a treasure for you always.

  11. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend and person.
    The letter from the book, to me that is a sign he is still with you! Big hugs

  12. Anonymous7:42 AM

    What a wonderful tribute for a dear friend. I feel almost as if I had met him. There will be a big hole in the world where his bright spirit used to be

    He has taken his light
    and is gone now
    Into a room you cannot find
    But you know he has been here
    By all of the lights
    He has left behind.

    Sorry for your loss of such a great friend. But those lights that he has left behind will be a beacon for you on dark days in your own journey.

  13. I'm sorry to hear of your loss of such a dear friend. Your eulogy was perfect. You have such a wonderful way of writing. It made me feel like I knew him too. Thanx for sharing him with all of us.Hold onto his light when times are bad for you. He would want you to.

  14. Always the good who get taken away from us so soon. Hopefully you can find some comfort with friends and family knowing your not alone experiencing this loss.

  15. You're absolutely right, Lori, finding that letter now, at that moment, was not coincidence. Losing those that are part of us is one of the most painful experiences of life. Like a piece of our heart has shattered and gone with them. Nothing I say can make that hurt, that pain, that emptiness, go away. You and his friends and family will keep his spirit alive with the beautiful memories you all shared with Stan. Remember, too, that physically he's not here, but guaranteed he's with you all in spirit, loving you, protecting you, and making sure you get the messages you need at just the right time. It's difficult to see someone you love so much in pain. Ask for what you need, believe it will be answered, and it will be received. Here for you, for absolutely anything. You're one of those people, those friends, that are a treasure, and you hold a special place in my heart, just as Stan does in yours. Peace, Love, & Sunshine <3

  16. Lori. I love the part about the letter dropping out like that. Divine. <3 :::hug:::

  17. This is such a touching and beautifully written tribute. I am so sorry for your loss... Wishing you comfort and healing as you grieve.

  18. I believe everything happens for a reason. The timing of this letter is divine. Bless you dear and keep his memories close. Healing Energy and Love...

  19. Anonymous5:46 PM

    I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, but rest assured that it was Divine intervention, indeed! You are blessed to have such a wonderful friend and know that he is there with you always.
    Cynthia S.


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