Mike Adams

The letter started by saying that he could not remember exactly what it was they were fighting about. But, regardless, he was willing to take all the blame to set things right between them. The simple letter was mailed on a Monday and arrived on a Wednesday. His mother-in-law and father-in-law read it together the afternoon they received it.

Sometime during the middle of the night the man’s father-in-law suffered a stroke and a massive heart attack. And his mother-in-law was all alone in the hospital while her husband of 62 years was fighting for his life. Her only daughter caught the next plane to be there with her.

After his father-in-law barely pulled it out, the man decided to get in his truck and make that long drive out to see him for the first time in fourteen years. But his father-in-law suffered another massive heart attack before he got there. Thankfully, this was after he was told that his son-in-law was on the way. The man would be there by his bedside consoling his wife and mother-in-law when his father-in-law passed away after several hours on life support.

But before his passing his mother-in-law would pull him aside in the hospital to speak to him. She thanked him for his letter though she insisted that its contents were incorrect. “You were wrong” she said. “It was all my fault, son. It was my entire fault, not yours.”

A few weeks later, the man was sitting in his living room with his wife, his son, his daughter, his son-in-law, his daughter-in-law, his mother-in-law, and his grandson. The little boy walked around the room saying “row, row, … row, row” and placing everyone in a circle holding hands that Christmas Eve.

Together the eight of them held hands and sang “Row, row, row your boat” as they danced in a circle around the laughing little boy. The man thought to himself, “If this doesn’t prove that there is a God above then nothing does.” I was there, too, thinking to myself that this is what heaven must be like – a place of joyous homecomings.

Maybe you’ve never experienced the kind of joy that forgiveness and reconciliation can bring to hearts that have been hardened by foolish pride. Maybe that letter is already written in your heart, although you planned on sending it tomorrow.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.