Tag Archives: death

Day 303: Brookdale Kingsport

Day 303-2A week ago today my aunt died after declining significantly in health over the past two years. She was a very special person for me. Every time my mother went into the hospital, Aunt Sue was there. She’d show up the same day and stay as long as she was needed.

Aunt Sue’s health started to decline in recent years. After losing her son and her best friend, I noticed her attitude changing. She seemed alone in this world and would frequently tell me that she no longer wanted to live. Two years ago her health rapidly started to deteriorate. She started showing clear signs of dementia and became very frail.

Over the past two years I called her, visited her in Tennessee and of course wrote her handwritten letters. But she was no longer the person I once knew. For the past 18 months she was living at an assisted living center. The staff there took tremendous care of her and I wanted to thank them for everything they did for my aunt.

RIP Aunt Sue – I love you very much.

Day 303

Brookdale Staff,

I wanted to send a note to thank everyone at Brookdale Kingsport for taking such wonderful care of my aunt: Sue Huels. She had not been well for some time. The woman that you knew was just a fraction of the woman she was. Every one of you showed so much kindness, compassion and respect toward her – even in her most difficult times. Thank you.

With gratitude,
Jason Reed Sandridge
(Sue’s nephew)

Day 187: Keaton Marek

Day 187-3Just after midnight on June 14th, Keaton Marek, a 22-year-old recent graduate of George Washington University, was found dead on the sidewalk near the intersection of 24th and M streets here in Washington. I work less than a block away and frequent a Starbucks there often.

I went by today and saw a memorial of letters and flowers and stopped to read them. Although I did know the young man, I was moved to write him a note and place it at the memorial.

RIP Keaton.


Day 187-4


We never met, but perhaps we crossed paths as I live nearby. I as deeply saddened to learn about your death. It touched me as it has so many others. I read the heartfelt messages that others have left for you and your family. I read about your athletic and academic accomplishments, your volunteer work and your natural curiosity of the world. I wish that I, and others, had known you. You made a difference in people’s lives and they are better for having known you. 

You will live forever in our hearts.

With love for you and your family,
Reed Sandridge


Day 117: Robert

My friend Robert lost his father recently. As is the case more and more, I heard the news on Facebook – which is always an oddity for me. You want to show support but don’t necessarily want to “like” it on Facebook. So I decided to drop him a handwritten note.

Day 117 tequila

I got this shot glass at a going away party for Robert when he left DC a few years ago. Seemed fitting to us it today.

Robert was back in Louisville, KY this weekend with his family as they came together to celebrate his father’s life. And while I felt sad for my friend and his family, I could see through the photographs that they truly celebrated his life. And if his father is anything like Robert, he wouldn’t have wanted people to be sad, he probably would have preferred everyone to take a shot of tequila and get back to contributing to our community (unless that involved driving!)

So…here’s to Robert’s dad!

Day 117


I’m so sorry to hear about your father. I can only imagine what a wonderful and interesting man he was. It’s never easy losing the people we love the most and I hope that it somehow comforts you to know that others are keeping you in their thoughts.

Lots of love to you and your family,
Reed Sandridge




Sunday Notes and Letters for Week 13

I’m now into the 13th week of my year-long journey of letter-writing. I am enjoying it immensely – and I’m surprised by how many people have told me that they have written someone a handwritten letter because of my efforts. Maybe we’ll start a mini writing revolution.

I’ve been thinking about throwing a party at the end of the year and inviting everyone who has been following along as well as those who I’ve written to during the year – and of course anyone who has written me a handwritten letter! I did that with they Year of Giving and it was a lot of fun. Stay tuned for details and if you have any ideas or suggestions on how to make the party unique, please drop me a note.

The letter from Mr. and Mrs. Bresnan

The thoughtful letter from Mr. and Mrs. Bresnan

I recently received a very nice handwritten letter from Mr. and Mrs. Bresnan who I wrote on Day 45. It was a thoughtful note on nice monogramed stationery. I had asked them for advice on writing good letters – they said, “I don’t think you need any tips on what makes a great letter. You certainly have that down pat.” That was very kind of them to say.

I’ll share one last item with you. Last Monday Bernhard “Buddy” Elias, a cousin of Anne Frank, died at the age of 89. He was the teenage Holocaust diarist’s last close relative. Anne Frank started a diary on her 13th birthday and kept it until she and her family were discovered and arrested. She later died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp 70 years ago this March.

Berhnard “Buddy” Elias Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

She wrote regularly to Kitty – the name she gave to her diary. Through her diaries we get to know her and discover what it was like to be jewish during Nazi controlled Europe during WWII. Her father Otto, the only member of her immediate family to survive the concentration camps, later said of her diaries, “There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.”

Buddy Elias was the president of the Anne Frank Fond which has the original diaries. When you look at how she filled the pages, the steady strokes of broad ink that she used, the way it was organized, you learn more about her than just the words. She even made an entry talking about her fountain pen – a prized possession of hers that she received as a gift from her grandmother when she was nine.

frankdiaryThinking about the this part of history makes my stomach curl. I find it unbelievable that something so horrible could have happened so recently. And while my heart aches when I read through her diaries, I’m thankful for them. Because of her determination to document her story, generations to come will never forget the Franks and know that for every Anne Frank there were millions of others whose story we sadly may never know.

RIP Mr. Elias.

Day 75: Meg

Day 7576-4My friend Meg lost her mother last week. She died the day after her 78th birthday. Losing family members is painful – it’s been 8 years since my mother died and I miss her just as much today as I did back in December of 2006 when she passed away.

Meg is smart, caring and has a generous sense of humor – she’s the type of person everyone likes. I’m sad for my friend today – I know how much her heart must be aching.

Day 7576-3

Dear Meg,

I am so sorry to hear about your mother. While I never knew her, I can imagine what a wonderful person she was – she raised an incredible daughter.

I believe that you are in Missouri right now – I hope it helps knowing how many people are keeping you and your family in our thoughts.

Let’s find time to get together when you are back.