A Love Story
Posted by Dennis Depcik
The CBS Sunday Morning show featured Dennis and Maggie's story this Sunday, Valentine’s Day.
“No thank you,” I told Cathy Fine, a bereavement counselor from JourneyCare, “I have no interest in counseling. I’m a trained social worker who has helped many others deal with loss and I certainly can handle mine.” I informed Cathy that I knew what to expect in the stages of grief and that I had my adult children to comfort me. I didn’t need anything else. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My wife, Maggie, died in our home after three weeks of hospice care. We had been married for 41 years, 2 months, 20 days, 9 hours, and 50 minutes and we were blessed with four children and seven grandchildren. When Maggie’s life ended, my life stopped.
Maggie and I came to know each other over fifty years ago, when she was sixteen and in high school, and I―her sister’s twenty-three year old brother-in-law―was stationed overseas in the Army. In kindness to someone far from home, she began sending letters to which I occasionally responded, but mostly out of courtesy. She meant nothing to me. After three years of writing, a time during which we rarely saw or spoke to each other, this “insignificant kid” became the most important person in my life. And it was all because of those letters. It was through those letters that we came to know each other and fall in love.
A couple months after Maggie died, while going through her closet, I discovered a box filled with all the letters we had written. I never knew she kept them these many years. Opening Maggie’s letters and seeing her handwriting jolted me in a way I never expected. These weren’t words on a page; this was Maggie’s voice in my ears, her face in front of mine, her laughter and her smile. It was too soon to be this close.
Within a week, I was making a telephone call to JourneyCare. “Is this Cathy Fine? I think I need to make an appointment.”
Cathy met with me regularly for the next five months and gave me what I most needed, at the time I needed it most—the gift of truly listening to me and genuinely caring about my feelings. She gave me hope, she gave me encouragement, and she gave me inspiration to face Maggie’s death in a positive and creative way.
With the strength I received through Cathy’s continued support, I wrote and published my book, “Wouldn’t It Be Something,” a true love story based on letters written across an ocean. To help others heal, I now speak at local libraries, grief support groups, Rotary Clubs and retirement communities about how writing helped me through the most difficult time of my life.
For more about Dennis' story on the CBS Sunday Morning show, visit http://www.cbsnews.com/news/xoxo-is-writing-love-letters-a-lost-art/