Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rest In Peace Charlotte Newton

Dear Charlotte,

I cannot believe I am actually writing this letter.  I knew you were sick.  I knew you had lived a good life.  And yet - there is still a part of me that doesn't believe that you are gone.  I am relieved that you are at peace.  But I am still heartbroken.

Charlotte, I starting coming to the church in Kent when I was eight years old.  From the very beginning I was fascinated by you and Will.  You were farmers!  You had cows!  Will drove a tractor!  Your old farmhouse had so many cool nooks and crannies.  And the horses - well, I was an eight-year-old girl.  The fact that you had horses pretty much made you two the coolest people in the entire church.

But beyond cool and fascinating - you by far were the sweetest people I had ever met.  With my grandparents living so far away, you and Will really played the role of surrogate grandparents to me.  You talked to me during coffee hour, you welcomed me into your home when my mom would visit and you always asked about my life outside of church.  You cared about me - I knew that.

One summer when I was home for college Will was having surgery on his back and you asked if I would be willing to stay with you while he recovered.  I am being completely genuine when I say that the few weeks I stayed with you were some of the most fun weeks of the entire summer.  You showed so much hospitality to me, asking what kind of food I normally ate - and setting the table for me so I could have a sit down breakfast every morning!  I would normally come home from work, chat with you for awhile and then go out for a run.  By the time I came home from my run you would be in bed, but not asleep.  You would hear me come up the stairs, call my name and I would sit in your room and talk until you started to fall asleep.  I will always treasure those conversations.  I remember one day coming home and telling you that I had a date the next day - you were so excited!  You squealed like one of my 20-something girlfriends.  And of course you wanted to know all of the details the next day.  Your memory was strong - but your friendship was even stronger.

Charlotte, you were one of my biggest supporters in the church.  I loved looking out into the congregation when I was preaching and seeing you smile back at me.  You were always the first person I would check in with after the service was over.  You couldn't see very well these last couple of years, but somehow you always knew it was me when I walked over.  That touched me in ways I will never be able to describe.

I went to bed last night praying for you.  I don't know what, exactly, I was praying for.  You lived a wonderful life.  I didn't want you to be in pain, but I wasn't ready to let you go either.  Maybe I was just praying for peace - peace for you and peace for all of us who mourn your death.  Peace for Will who was a devoted husband for 70+ years.  Peace for your daughter, peace for your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren.

I woke up thinking about you.  I found out you passed right before I left for church.  I numbly gathered my things and drove to church.  I sat at my desk and stared at my sermon.  Tears started to well up in my eyes and then I realized that if you had been there you probably would have told me to pull it together!  So I slipped back into my four-inch heels, straightened my suit jacket and prepared myself for worship.

And it was an awesome worship.  You would have been proud.

Thank you for being a surrogate grandmother.  Thank you for being a friend.  Thank you for being an inspiration.

I love you.  I miss you already.  We will all take good care of Will.



  1. I don't know who this letter is to specifically, but it's beautiful and there are so many people in my life who fit this same story. Beautifully written-love to you.

  2. thank you for that Sarah! Mrs Newton was my first grade teacher, I grew up with her grandkids, and my mom worked with her daughter for years at the Fabric Shop. She was a wonderful lady!! Thank you for such a brilliant tribute

  3. Sarah, I'm so sorry Charlotte is gone. I loved reading this letter & understanding a bit more of what she meant to you. I will be praying for you & for Will.

    I love that butterfly picture!

  4. oh, hon! *HUGS* you & the rest of charlotte's family are in my prayers. i'm sorry for your loss. PTL we know that in the Lord, it's not goodbye, but see you later!

  5. Oh Sarah, I am so sorry for your loss-we're never prepared. Thank you for sharing your story with us..I prayed, I just found out. You carried on beautifully yesterday-Charlotte knew of your strength! You will see her again! I'm certain!

  6. I am so sorry for your loss, Sarah. Charlotte certainly sounds like a wonderful woman. Her spirit will live on in the many people whose hearts she's touched.

  7. I'm so sorry about Charlotte- she sounds like a wonderful person. That was a beautiful tribute to her that you wrote!


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