Abby Van Metrew, a teenager from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received an unusual present on her 18th birthday… a mysterious box, one that had been sitting, locked, in her home for 17 years. It turns out, the box was all a part of a surprise Abby’s mom, Susie, had planned on Abby’s first birthday.
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“We were thinking that we didn’t really need, or want, a bunch of presents for a 1-year-old who wouldn’t appreciate them or even know what the were.” says Susie, recalling the celebration she held for Abby when she turned 1. So, rather than gifts, Susie asked guests to bring letters for Abby to read when she turned 18. No one– not even Susie– would open the box for the next 17 years. “We never even looked at or opened the letters when we received them in 1999. They weren’t ours to open, so it was easy to keep it a secret. We just sealed each letter in a plastic baggie and put the antique box on a shelf so that it looked like a decoration in our home.”
In the video below, Abby finally turned 18 and was given the surprise, but the gift turned out to be so much more meaningful than anyone in the family would have imagined.
This is video 1 of 2. Be sure to continue reading for the rest of the story and to see Abby’s reaction to opening the box!
The box contained letters from departed family members. One was from Abby’s uncle, John, who had passed away in a car crash. Abby was in tears reading his letter which said, “I’m undoubtedly standing nearby laughing tremendously.”
Abby’s grandfather– who died 5 years before Abby opened the box– had written to her as well. “I may not be here on Earth with you when you are 18,” he wrote, “but I will always be with you spiritually. I love you.”
“She had to set the letter from her grandpa down and come back to it later, it was so emotional for her.” said Susie. “It was emotional for my husband and I, too.”
Abby said the letters were like “getting to have another conversation with these people I thought I was never going to be able to speak to again.”
Susie called the gift, “Letters from Heaven.” “It is the most precious gift we could have ever given to her.” she wrote in a Facebook post about the birthday surprise. “We cried and laughed all night. Such a blessing to have birthday wishes from everyone.”
Check out the video below of Abby’s reaction to one of these letters.
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