Jeri k Tory Conklin

last letter home

In my new book, When Spirits Speak: A Gathering of Heroes – Stories of U.S. Soldiers – The Cost of Freedom (2nd Edition – 10th Anniversary) several of the soldiers spoke about writing their last letter home.

Perhaps our last letters never got back to our families. At least we felt good writin’ them. Even if things back home with the parents was bad, the thought of dying without saying goodbye was worse. Sometimes fences got mended that seemed broken when we left, just by writin’ the letter. Me, I was good with my parents. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but I do miss them. My letter was pretty short; just told each one how much I loved them and I hoped to see them again. If they were receiving that letter, there was no seeing them again until they showed up here. I knew that. Just wanted to give them something to hope for. We weren’t a religious family, never set foot in a church ’ceptin’ for Grandpa’s funeral. But as I said before, over here, you pray there is a god somewhere who loves you enough to get you out of this hell. Staff Sergeant Matthew R., Da Nang

The last letter home was the one to be delivered to their family in case they didn’t make it home alive. This was a common practice in the military for those serving in combat. The soldiers’ range of emotions fluctuated with the strength of their family bond. While watching Special Forces, a reality show, the remaining five participants were asked to write their letters home, then read them to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye to be seen.


Even though your family might be estranged; your parents (one or both) have passed, or any number of other adverse situations, telling them how much they meant to you; the lessons you learned from them, what you would want the future to hold for your children, you wife or husband – it can be so freeing. Not only can it release anger at the situation you found yourself in growing up, but it changes your perspective on life and death.

          I challenge and encourage you to write that last letter home and read it out loud to ourself; a friend, family pet … I’d love to hear how that act of writing changed your perspective, changed you — remember, YOU CHOSE your parents in this lifetime for the lessons you would learn to grow your soul.

          In fact you might make it an annual activity. Save them so you can look back one day and see the change in your attitude and soul growth. WARNING: Writing this letter will not be as easy as you think. Reading it out loud will be even more of a challenge, but I know each of you reading this blog will be able to accept this challenge. Family dynamics will change along the way. You may not be on the battlefield of a war like the soldiers, you are, however, on the battlefield of life, this exercise is just one more opportunity to grow.

Piece by piece – When the Picture Emerges

Looking back at my life this time, I realized that my dream had come true. I was working with Native American children and sharing my passion and skills with them. I was making a difference in their lives, and they were making a difference in mine.

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