Ed's letter to Judy

Published February 14, 2005

On Sunday, Floridian published "Always, Ed," the story of a lifelong love affair between Ed and Judy Barber of Gainesville. To read it, please click on www.sptimes.com/links Every Valentine's Day for more than three decades, Ed has published a letter to Judy in the Independent Florida Alligator, the student-run newspaper of which he is general manager.

Judy died last March. Here, for Valentine's Day, is Ed's 2005 letter to her.

- MIKE WILSON, assistant managing editor/newsfeatures

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My life's darling love . . . my heart . . . this is the first Valentine's Day in almost half a century that we have been apart. My heart is broken, my sweet Valentine, for although our love will live forever, the pain of not being with you is almost unbearable. Those close to me know what I mean when I say that my heart is so broken that it has failed me. The beauty of this world, its joy, the excitement and love in my life now rests with you. I yet expect you to place your hand gently on my shoulder. Your light touch expressed incredible warmth and love. I can smell your sweet aroma, a perfume unique to you. When I would be in your arms with my face near you, I would breathe deeply and tell you how marvelous your scent was. You would always laugh and say something like, "That can't be. I don't have any perfume on." I would lower my face to drink in another long and deep breath to experience it again. Then I would say honestly, "You don't need anything but you. It's you that's so delicious." It was true and it still fills my being. Even now I expect to hear your melodic laugh, so compelling it would cheer me to laugh also, even if I didn't know what was so amusing to you. All the marvelous, wonderful, enchanting things that came together to be you are endless. Shall I try to list them for those who never had the blessings of knowing you? Loving, gentle, sweet, dedicated, intelligent, wise, beautiful, inspiring, talented . . . I have to stop. There aren't enough words to give even the slightest justice to a description of you. All of that is memory, for now you're with God. But in truth, you and your qualities aren't just wonderful memories. There's really no way to assess the influence for good you have had on so many people. The lives and souls you touched live as a wonderful legacy you left the world. So many people have told me how unbelievable and ironic it is that someone as wonderful as you so suddenly would be gone from their lives. One of the many incongruities of your death happened one Saturday afternoon. We had been at the company picnic all day and were headed home, when it occurred to me that I should bring up a subject you didn't like to talk about. I said, "Honey, obviously I'll die before you, so I want us to talk about your plans . . . about what you'll do when that happens." You said, "Now don't be so sure that you'll go first." I replied, "Come on, Honey, you know that the chances are overwhelming that I will. Besides, I don't think I could survive without you." You reached over, squeezed my arm and said, "Babe, we're going to go together. And that's not going to happen for a very long time." Early the next morning you passed away peacefully in your sleep. For some bewildering reason, I was left behind. Darling, you were such a special person, friend, wife, mother and grandmother. There was no mission or situation that you didn't move through with the greatest of grace and beauty. You are terribly missed by so very many, but most, of course, by me. I had the wonderful favor of your devotion, passion and friendship for almost fifty years. I love you more than anyone has ever been loved before. I always will. May God forgive me if I loved you too much, for it is only through God's grace that we will be together again. And we will be.

Always, Ed

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