Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

A Letter from Heaven

Jackie K. Cooper

Illness and death are always with us. They occur with regularity and leave heartbreak and disillusionment in their wake. Sometimes it tears families apart and other times it brings them together. There is no predicting what it will do. People react in different ways and no way is the wrong way.

I lost an acquaintance a few days ago. I hesitate to say a friend because he and I were not that close. His name was Brian and he suffered from a malignant brain tumor. He fought the good battle for several years but he finally succumbed last week.

He and I became closer when he sought me out to help him write his story. I had known Brian for years but we just knew each other, nothing more than that. I went to his house to talk with him about his story and his battle with the brain tumor. His brain was sharp as ever but getting the words out was difficult. He became frustrated with this “blockage” of sorts and would trip over the words he wanted to speak.

His wife would try to supply the words and this would make him even more frustrated. He wanted to do it himself. I knew from the start that this collaboration would never work. Brian just couldn’t get the words out and I couldn’t fill in the blanks. I suggested other ways he might get his story told but nothing ever came of it.

One thing that did come across loud and clear as I met with Brian was how much he loved his family. His wife and daughter were everything to him and his face would light up when they were in the room. His love for them was his greatest legacy.

As things took a turn for the worst I think Brian was aware there was only a small amount of time left. Being a Christian he had less fear of what would happen afterwards than non-believers would have. Still he wanted to make sure his family was all right.

Brian was buried on a Friday. A huge crowd attended his funeral. He was a popular and well-loved man so all wanted to pay their respect to him. The preacher was eloquent and the eulogy was heart warming. You could say that Brian went out in style.

I was talking to someone about Brian’s death this morning and I asked how Brian’s wife and daughter were doing. I was assured they were doing as well as could be expected. Then this person added that he thought the letter helped. I didn’t know anything about a letter so I asked for more details.

I was told that a day or two after the funeral Brian’s wife and daughter got a “letter from Brian.” I don’t know the exact contents but it told them he had arrived in Heaven, that he was healed, and that he was doing fine.

Brian had arranged for the letter to be sent to them after he died. I think it is an amazing gesture from an amazing man. He wanted to make sure they were all right and telling them he was all right would help with that.

We get through illness and death the best we can. How wonderful it would be if we could all get a letter from Heaven.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events. Cooper has authored five books: Journey of a Gentle Southern Man, Chances and Choices, Halfway Home, The Bookbinder, and The Sunrise Remembers.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.


© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2010